Google’s Hangouts App for iPad Is an Ugly Mess

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Hangouts iPad app

At yesterday’s Google I/O event Google announced the very promising Hangouts app, a sort of unified messaging app / service for iOS, Android and web. And the Hangouts app for the iPad and iPhone was released yesterday too.

The iPad app is a horrible, ugly mess. There a number of very good iPad apps with simple, basic user interfaces. But Hangouts has a drab, clumsy UI that looks very much like it was slapped together with little to no thought or effort.

That’s one of the app’s main screens above. It’s just sad looking right? Hit the break for a couple more screenshots of the app in all its glory.

Here’s a typical Hangouts screen when having a text chat:

Hangouts text landscape

What’s going on with all the huge amounts of blank space? And the goofy positioning of the text blocks? It just feels like it’s not meant to be this way. Like somebody started working out this screen design and then just forgot about it.

Here’s a screen from a video call I was on last night:

Hangouts app screen

I don’t think that one needs any words.

The Hangouts release on Android isn’t much slicker. The app shows up in the Google Play store with its new name and new app icon – but it’s available only as an update to the Google Talk app. OK, fair enough – but once the update is done the app is still called Google Talk, no new name, no new icon. Bizarre non-branding of a new app that Google made a big deal of in their keynote event.

It’s a shame that the launch of Hangouts is so unimpressive, because the app itself seems like it has great potential. Unlike FaceTime it has proper, multi platform support, and offers a number of cool features.  Here’s a little of its App Store description and some of those features:

Hangouts brings one-on-one and group conversations to life with photos, emoji, and video calls for free.  Connect with friends across computers, phones and tablets.
— Group conversations are better than ever.  Send photos or emoji, see when people are engaged in the Hangout and message friends anytime, even if they’re not connected right now.
— Video calls make Hangouts more fun.  Turn any conversation into a video call with up to 10 friends.
— All your friends can use Hangouts.  Hangouts works on computers, phones, and tablets, so you can connect with everyone.
More Hangouts awesomeness:
— View and continue your Hangouts across devices.
— Get notifications just once.  After you see an alert, it’ll be removed on other devices.
— Snooze your notifications if you’d prefer to respond later.
— See what you talked about in the past, including shared photos and your video call history.
— Keep a record of any Hangout for just a short period of time by turning history off.
— View collections of photos shared from each of your Hangouts.
— Choose from over 850 emoji to express what’s on your mind.

Have any of you been using Hangouts on iPad or iPhone yet? If so, what do you think of it?

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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5 thoughts on “Google’s Hangouts App for iPad Is an Ugly Mess”

  1. I appreciate the new hangout app for iPhone because there was no previous good app that allowed me to chat with friends on Google Chat. Since Chat is blocked at my work this new Hangout allows me to talk with everyone that is on the computer using google chat or hangout.

    The set-up definitely looks significantly better on a cellphone because there isn’t all the blank space you mentioned earlier for the tablet

  2. The iPad app cannot be downloaded as of right now.
    It shows some error message like not compatible.

    On iPhone it works fine.
    To me the app is well-designed and has only a few bugs.
    (Remember Google Drive and Google+ app when they first came out?)

    Compared to all the competitors around, Hangouts still have a very good standing.

  3. Omg I’m dying about your comment regarding the screen from the video call you were on, hahaha! So far I’m able to start a hangout on the New iPad, accept a invitation from someone else easily and add people to the call if I need to but I cannot figure out how or if I’m going to be able to share and work on Google docs during the Hangout. I can see how to do this easily from my desktop but not from my iPad. Any suggestions? And thanks for the laugh :)

  4. There is no “buddies list” on the iPad app (not sure about iPhone either). What a worthless piece of crap app if you can’t see who is actually online to chat with or be able to start new chats without typing in peoples gmail addresses every time u want to chat. Unbeliveable. How the hell could one of the most important, if not THE most important, part of a chat application not exist??

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