Google recently launched it’s great new feature as a standalone app: Hangouts

With everything new in our life, there are great chances of confusion and adapting. The same goes with Hangouts. I have seen many complaints about not seeing the user status – is the person online or is he offline?

Now this question get’s me thinking: What am I in real life? Online or Offline? What does it mean?

Here is a small personal take on why I love Hangouts. It is not a post about what is missing like Google Voice or AOL/AIM contacts and I’m sure not everyone likes the post at all but… here we go


Online, Offline & Invisible

It seems we can’t get rid of this status indications but why? In my eyes those status indications are completely useless with the release of Hangouts.

What does being online on a messenger mean?
It indicates the other person that I’m free to chat.

What does being offline on a messenger mean?
I’m not able to chat with you because I’m not here.

If you see a status “away” does it mean I’m not responding? What about being “busy” is that different?

To be honest, if I don’t have the time to chat with you, why should I leave my application open? Just to show you I’m in a super important meeting and you can’t reach me? That makes no sense to me.

Seeing a status as “online” does not give you any guarantee that I will actually respond to you.

Being online is forcing you to take action, it set’s you under pressure. If someone writes you because you have a green icon, it is commonly expected that you reply to it. Oh, you forgot to set a different status? Explain this to the other person.

What about invisible? How does that make sense?

I’m online but will only write to friends I select. They can’t see me and won’t write me because they think I won’t get the message.

Do we need an indication like this?

Again, I don’t think so. Do you have a friend in your contact list that is all the time “busy or away”? I guess at least one. Now, if you follow those indications, it means you could never reach that person. Does it make sense for the person to use a messenger at all?

Green (online) and Red (away/busy) are stop and go signals. Depending on your importance to your friends you could find yourself spammed with 20 new messages as soon as you go green since they have waited the whole day for you. Now you have to walk through each single message – they expect a quick reply.

Wouldn’t it be better if those 20 messages would have been delivered during the day and not all at once?

Online vs Connected

Let’s get rid of being online – In the time where smartphones are taking over the digital life we are nearly always online, there is no need to indicate that you can reach me via any application.

Let’s try to use the term “connected” instead of online. If I use my smartphone, I’m connected to the digital world and the same goes with my computer, tablet or any other device. I’m connected and you can reach out to me.

Now with Hangouts it doesn’t matter if you are online or offline. If I’m writing you a message, it will get delivered across all devices you have and I can be sure that you received the message. It is about you to get back to me whenever you feel comfortable (would mean online). If you don’t have the time, you’ll get back to me later (busy/away). It is as simple as that.

We really don’t need an indication that tells our friends we are listening to them. We do, even if we are “away/busy/invisible”, it’s about the conversation you have with me.

This is where Hangout is great, it doesn’t care about your status, it cares about getting your conversation delivered!

Feels like traditional SMS? Well, you can’t do video chats via a SMS or send group messages. However, from what we have heard these days is that Google is already working on new features and SMS integration.

I see that some need to get used of this but chatting/messaging and conversations are just reaching a new different level.