Nov 20, 2013 05:05 PM EST
A popular point made by iPhone users about Android deficiencies usually has to do with messaging. I hear them routinely say, "Android doesn't have emojis, FaceTime or iMessage." Although Android will never have iMessage, the new KitKat update brings messaging changes all around. The way 4.4 changes things so dramatically is through Hangouts.
Hangouts has been Google's messenger for awhile, and is used when online at Google+. However, it is now standard with Android, and comes with the stock OS as an available messaging option. With KitKat, Hangouts is the default messenger, but if you can't root your device to get the latest OS, or are restricted by hardware (unlikely,) you can just update Hangouts from the Google Play Store. "Why bother?" you may be asking. Here's why.
1. Simplifies Messaging:
If you're an avid Google+ user like me, you use Hangouts to message people. Even if you're not really into social media, messaging from Android phone to Android phone when all you have is Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient. If you have an app that lets you send SMS and MMS messages to your contacts, then a separate app to let you message contacts' Android phones or Google+ accounts, wouldn't it be better to condense? Both iOS and WP8 have condensed default messaging apps, so it was high-time Android got on board too! As far as a simple task like messaging goes, easier is better, so combining your messaging is a win.
While Hangouts has used emoticons or a while now, recently emojis have been added as well. Many people don't care for emojis, but many do. Either way, they're here and they're here to stay, and although Google was the last to jump on board, adding emoji compatibility is an added bonus.
3. Simple video/voice calls right from the app
Gone are the days where you have to download a third-party app, make an account, and add your friends in order to be able to video chat. If you're messaging or texting a friend, and you want to chat, select his or her Google account, then press the video call button. You don't need to jump through hoops or pay, just call. As far as call quality goes, from personal experience the call is as good as the connection on your device. This feature will work over both cellular data and Wi-Fi, just watch out if you don't have unlimited data.
Perhaps none of these features will revolutionize your messaging experience, but since I switched to Hangouts, and definitely since I flashed KitKat on my Gnexus, I have had much more convenient messaging on my device. I encourage you to try the new Hangouts out, (if you don't like it, change back to another option) and leave a comment about how you like it!
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