Google has been known to get a bit of a head-scratcher when it comes to using the social network.
While the company seems to be moving in the right direction on its efforts to increase productivity, one of the company’s latest changes could be an unwelcome distraction.
“Google Hangouts” are a feature that lets users hang out with friends on a group chat with the added bonus of showing a “featured” version of a message.
While that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, one member of the Canadian Technology Council has a new theory on why Google might be going a bit overboard with Hangouts: “There’s nothing more distracting than being in the middle of a conversation with someone who can’t respond.
This feature is supposed to get rid of that distraction.”
That is, at least, according to a Canadian Technology Review article, written by David Gormley, a former technology director at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and now a senior fellow at the Ottawa-based think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research.
Gormleys conclusion is that the Hangouts feature is a ploy by Google to increase users’ productivity, not to improve the quality of their conversations.
In short, it’s a bad idea.
Google’s new Hangouts option “is an insidious step towards making Google’s users feel more engaged, which is good for Google’s bottom line,” Gormys report states.
Google’s recent attempts to improve its Hangouts messaging options aren’t without precedent. “
While the Hangout feature is not a bad concept, it does raise a few questions about the effectiveness of the feature.”
Google’s recent attempts to improve its Hangouts messaging options aren’t without precedent.
In January, the company unveiled a revamped version of its Hangout app that added a number of features including “likes,” “tweets,” and more.
It was a pretty big deal, and Google has since rolled out an update that allows users to delete messages they no longer want to see.
The new version of Hangouts features a few things that Gormies report don’t make a lot of sense, though.
For one, Hangouts offers no ability to filter messages by a user’s location.
This may seem obvious, but it’s not.
Google says users can also “locate friends on the other side of the world, or even in their own home” and have the ability to “hide messages from their own device.”
So, even if you don’t want your friends to see your Hangouts status update, that doesn’t mean your friends won’t find it.
“The fact that users can ‘hide’ messages from one device or a different device is a bit confusing, because it is possible to hide messages from your own device, but not from the other devices you have connected to your computer,” Gories report states, before adding that it’s unclear how many messages are hidden on your device.
“A similar problem exists with location data: the message will not be shown on the HangOut device, and will instead be displayed as a placeholder, with the user prompted to search for the message before being able to see it.”
In addition, Google doesn’t seem to offer the ability for users to add messages to their account.
Gorys report says the feature “doesn’t appear to have any way to delete the message.”
As for the user experience, the report states that users should expect to “find the ‘likes’ and ‘twecks’ button on the top right of the screen a lot less useful now that the message is hidden from your phone.”
While this is probably not the most important feature in Hangouts right now, the technology is clearly moving in a positive direction.
The app is still in beta, but Google’s marketing materials show it’s being tested with a number “very high users,” which means that there are plenty of users who might be able to enjoy it.
Google is also working on a new Hangout that will include the ability “to display and share pictures, videos, and audio,” as well as “add a ‘like’ button” and a “like” feature that would let users “share their most liked photo with friends.”
The company is also planning to “offer new and improved features in the near future,” so you can expect the company to add new features as they come.
Google Hangouts could be the next thing for Google to improve on in the hopes that users are excited to use the social networking service.
For now, though, the new Hang out feature will probably continue to annoy users.