Is it just me – or me and a couple of others – or has Google started to lose it? Before I rant, here’s a friend’s complaint:

*******s discontinued Creative Kit. It was a cloud-based enhancement to Picasa that let you post-process photos. It was excellent!Now they have added a photo editor to Google Plus. But there are problems. It doesn’t have the functionality that creative kit did. It can only be used with Chrome. And I have to upload a ~5MB file, edit it, and download it back, which sucks.

Which brings me to my latest bugbear: Hangouts. When Google started to roll out Hangouts, they replaced the Talk app in Android. In the description one line stood out for me: I could now share photos. I quite liked the idea – it’s what I often use WhatsApp for but that requires the other person to have a smartphone. This would allow me to share photos with Google (chat) contacts. Quite nice.

Or Not.

Hangouts is possibly Google’s worst ‘popular’ app out there. They’ve removed functionalities that made talk/chat useful and there are bugs that haven’t been patched in months now. Starting with:

  • The “2 mins” bug. Every time I send a message, Hangouts tells me it was sent “2 mins ago”. No, Hangouts, I *just* sent it. Not anywhere between 60 and 120 seconds ago. Or 120 and 180, however they count it. The funniest part is that this filters down into two features.
    – On a trivial level, the message time stamp continues from its incorrect initial timestamp, so messages sent ten minutes previously end up being shown as “12 mins ago”.
    – More seriously, the Video Call feature starts counting time from 2:00. I was a bit confused at first go when it told me I’d been on the call for 2:15 when the other party hadn’t picked my call. Did no one even beta test this?
  • The Video Call has one bug and one missing feature:
    – The bug: When two people try to call each other at roughly similar times, it doesn’t realise this and tries to get both going and gets ‘confused’. This resulted in my requiring at least three tries to end a video call, including Hangouts re-calling my friend while I was trying to hang up.
    – The missing feature: Why can’t I make just audio calls? Why do I have to start a video call and then switch off my camera? Did the developers or marketing research people or WHOEVER drew up the initial specifications not even talk to a single user? Are there no users out there who want to use a phone-like system?
  • Emoticons: Did they really have to go all WhatsApp on them? I realise that WhatsApp may not have been the first in this field, but Hangouts seems to have straight out copied the list of emoticons from WA. And even failed to add a ‘Droid’ emoticon – you would’ve thought that would have been a nice personal touch to Android phones…
  • And my biggest peeve: WHERE IS THE DAMN STATUS INDICATOR? And WHERE IS MY STATUS TAG? Why can’t I set my status to Available / Busy / Away / Invisible? Did none of Google’s beta testers actually use the old Talk in their daily lives? Both features were indispensable to me, and suddenly they’re gone.

There endeth my rant, but Google needs to know how this impacts their users’ behaviour. I have not switched to Google Keep from Evernote, because I don’t know when Google will shut it down like it did Reader. Likewise, I don’t use Currents for RSS or Play for music. And I will any day choose WhatsApp for messaging and Skype for audio/video calls. (Special mention to Skype – they seem to have made their app much better than the bloatware it started out as) I *do* own a Nexus 4, but that has more to do with the price it was available at than my loyalty to the company.

Maybe they won’t miss my custom much, maybe they need to worry about losing that of many.

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5 Responses to Dear Google, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?

  1. Hey! I have another rant against Google. The sync option in chrome – super duper annoying. If I log into Gmail from ANY system on Chrome, all my apps, add-ons and settings automatically start functioning on it. Why is this not always a good thing? I have a block on some TV streaming website (yes, it’s an addiction) on my work-laptop and the damn thing has gone and synced the block onto all other devices in the houses! We spent 45 minutes trying to disable it on the computer we usually watch movies on but the add-on comes with built in checks so you don’t cheat it. Finally, we had to upgrade flash on Mozilla and finally started watching our 28 minute show after a one hour headache.
    And, the latest upgrade to this was “We can open your open tabs anywhere”. Do I really want all the 1,00 tabs open on my laptop at any given time to open when I log in at work? Oh good heavens no.

  2. Oh and. Don’t bother about Keep. The archiving option sucks – you don’t know where the bloody note archives. Evernote is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better!

  3. Oh jeez, I had no idea the sync worked *that* well. I have never used Chrome as a primary browser, and I’m glad for it. I’m also glad I haven’t linked my Android phone with my primary GMail, that might have been just too much for a virtual control-freak like me to keep track of.

  4. Mihir Shah says:

    Here’s one more annoyance to add to your list. Every time I open Youtube, it asks me whether I want to log in using Google Plus. Apparently, saying “no” once doesn’t work.

    Also, why does the damn thing re-buffer a video if I just go back a few minutes or seconds?

    • Argh, yes. I really don’t want to use my real name on YouTube. And I would like a quick replay of the damn video too, not re-buffer EVERY SINGLE TIME. Gah.

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