How to use Google Hangouts on Android

Become a master of Google's excellent Hangouts messenger service with our easy guide.

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Hangouts is Google's text, voice and video messenger service. Once part of the Google+ social network, it later expanded into a standalone service and become a tremendously valuable communications tool.

Like many messenger services, you can hold text-based chats as well as voice chats, video calls and full-blown video conferences. Hangouts also integrates with other Google apps and services like Google Home for even more versatility.

How to Get Started in Google Hangouts

First off, download the Google Hangouts app if it isn't already installed on your phone.

There are also desktop versions of Hangouts if you're going to be using a PC or Mac. In fact, it’s actually integrated into your Gmail account on your PC, but we’re going to concentrate on the Android version.

Once the app is installed, open it up and you should automatically sign you via your Google Account, or what Google call a "G Suite account" – just in case you’ve seen that and not been sure what it means.

If you have multiple Google accounts on one phone, you’ll be asked to choose the account you want to use for Hangouts. From there, you should see a blank page looking a little sad and telling you there are no conversations yet. That's because you haven't made any!

Tap the plus sign that appears and choose text conversation. At this point, you’ll be prompted to allow the Hangouts app to access your contacts. Confirm that and you’ll be able to start chatting away.

Phone number verification

When you start using Hangouts on your phone, you’ll be asked to verify your phone number. This just means you’ll be sent a text with a security code and Hangouts will ask you to confirm it.

This will let people find you via your phone number as well as via your Gmail address.

If you’re already signed in and haven’t been asked to verify, you can set it up yourself. Tap the three parallel lines on the top left, then tap settings, followed by the account you want to verify and then scroll down to verify phone number. It's that easy!

What else can Google Hangouts do?

  • Video calls. Hangouts also lets you make video calls via your phone's front-facing camera. As Hangouts is designed to be collaborative, you can have up to 10 people in on the call, which is one hell of a party.
  • Group chats. Even the text chat isn’t just a two-way street. You can get a group chat going between friends and family. And it’ll accommodate up to 150 friends and family members if you're particularly popular.
  • Use Hangouts from Gmail. If you’re using Gmail on your phone, you’ll have an option to send a Hangouts message directly from their contact details.
  • What about making phone calls? You can use Hangouts for making Wi-Fi calls to regular phone numbers, but you’ll need to download the app Hangouts Dialer. After that, you’ll see that Hangouts has two tabs at the top of the screen. Just be aware that Hangouts Dialer isn't a free service; you’ll pay around US$0.04 a minute to call an Australian mobile number. Odds are your mobile plan already has lower cost (or unlimited) calls, so it's best to only use this as a last resort.

Need more data for using Hangouts on the go? Compare mobile plans with more than 20GB of data below:

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