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.
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.