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Google Hangouts Taps P2P For Better Audio And Video To Improve Call Quality

6 February 2016, 10:14 pm EST By Alexandra Burlacu Tech Times
Google started rolling out a new feature to its Hangouts app for Android, switching to peer-to-peer (P2P) connections. P2P should significantly improve call quality, allowing for better and more stable audio and video.  ( Google Hangouts )

Google is trying out new ways to improve its Hangouts messaging platform and it now wants to improve call quality through P2P.

In today's connected world, there are a slew of messaging apps available to allow users to communicate with each other. While other messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber or others may be more popular than Google Hangouts in some areas and demographics, Google is making notable efforts to improve its service.

Not too long ago, the company rolled out Hangouts 7.0 with a number of neat improvements and new features, all aiming to enhance the experience. It now seems that Google is at it again, aiming to take things up a notch by improving audio and video quality over Hangouts calls.

More specifically, Google wants to make a direct P2P, aka peer-to-peer connection between Hangouts users who exchange calls on the platform.

Instead of routing those calls through Google servers, the company now wants to move to direct P2P connections. P2P would allow for a more efficient connection between users who call each other and should result in better video and audio quality.

The feature seems to be rolling out slowly, but users on Reddit already reported receiving a notification to alert them of a new feature when attempting to make a call over Hangouts. We also tried it out and got the same notification (see image above).

Google itself confirms Hangouts peer-to-peer calling on its support pages, detailing the feature.

"To improve audio and video quality, Hangouts calls use a direct peer-to-peer connection when possible. This allows Hangouts to more efficiently route your call directly to the person you're talking to, rather than connecting the call through one of Google's servers," Google explains.

The company further notes that a direct P2P connection between two users will reveal both users' IP addresses. Having the IP address makes it possible to approximate users' location, so it could be a privacy risk.

It remains unclear at this point whether users will have the option to turn off the Hangouts P2P connection to avoid revealing their IP address.

Lastly, it's worth pointing out that only some Android users saw the new P2P connections on Google Hangouts, but no reports surfaced so far regarding the feature for iOS.

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