Google released a standalone website for communications service Hangouts, providing users with one more option to access the service for sending messages and making either phone calls or video calls.
Hangouts can previously be accessed through a Chrome extension, the Chrome app, Inbox, Gmail and Google+. The addition of the standalone website for Hangouts provides users with a simple and very accessible way to access the service with an easy to remember URL.
Similar to how Hangouts operates in other locations such as Gmail, users can open several conversations at once. Users can also initiate group chats and make video calls through the standalone Hangouts website.
To being using the standalone website of Hangouts, users simply have to access the URL and log in with their Google account. Upon doing so, the user will see icons for contacts, conversations and phone calls on the left side of the screen, along with an option button that calls up a menu for downloading the Hangouts app for iOS, Android or Chrome and the Hangouts Dialer for Android.
Going through the user's contacts, three options will be given upon clicking on the three dots to the right of the contact's name. The options are to pin to certain contact to the top of the contacts list, initiate a video call or to hide the contact from the user's list.
In the conversations menu, users can access all previous conversations with their contacts and can initiate new conversations by through the search bar on top of the list.
In the phone calls menu, users can type in the name of the contact or phone number that they will be looking to make a call to.
These are features that can be accessed through any other version of Hangouts. The difference is that instead of having Hangouts conversations open with the Gmail inbox in the background or on top of social media posts on Google+, the standalone website of Hangouts provides users with a much cleaner interface with regularly changing images as the background of the website.
The new Hangouts website shows that Google is slowly unbundling features from Google+, similar to what the company has done in changing Google+ Photos into Google Photos with its own dedicated website and app.