Google launches Hangouts, unifying Google Talk and Google+ Messenger

At the Google I/O Keynote today, Google announced a bunch of new stuff. Most of it was for developers (I/O is a developers conference after all), but among the few consumer releases announced was Hangouts. Hangouts is the replacement Chat/Video Service for Google Talk, which hasn’t really been improved in ages. It also unifies Google+ Messenger and the Hangout video chat feature that is a part of Google+.


Having used it for a short period on both Android and on the Chrome Browser, it is quite nice and easy to navigate through, and works much more reliably than the messenger component of Google+.

It’s available now for iOS, Android and for Chrome. Just click the links below to download the app.

Here’s the link to the Android App

Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

And here’s the iOS App

Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

You can get the Chrome app here.

You can read more about the new Hangouts at the Gmail Blog. Here’s the post blog post:

Today we announced Hangouts, a big improvement to Google’s real-time communication services. Instead of different versions of chat, video chat and calling across Google products, Hangouts gives you one consistent way to connect with the people you care about. 
What does this mean for your Gmail? You now have the option to switch from the current version of chat to Hangouts. Simply click “Try it out” next to your chat list to switch to Hangouts and give your chat an instant facelift (literally!). You’ll now see the profile photos in the order of your most recent conversations. With Hangouts, you’ll also be able to quickly send messages, have video calls with up to ten people at once, and share photos. You can start a conversation with just one friend or even a whole group. Hangouts transition effortlessly between desktop and mobile — in fact, Hangouts will be available in Gmail, Google+,Android phones and tabletsiPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and as a Windows, Mac or Linux desktop application using the Chrome extension. You can start a Hangout on your phone, and pick it up in Gmail right where you left off! 





The new Hangouts experience in Gmail is rolling out as an optional switch starting today. Click the “Try it out” button when it appears next to your chat list to switch right away, or you can switch later. Learn more about the new Hangouts here.

GMail via SMS – So much for data limits

Smartphone usage has been growing globally (up by 42.5% as of Q1 2012 as compared to the same quarter in 2011) and pretty much everyone with a smartphone uses it to access their email. Mobile phone usage in various parts of the world has been growing too, but that doesn’t necessarily consist of smartphones. It’s the feature phones (the so called “Dumbphones”) that still rule. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to get your mail fill on the move though. It is a problem however, as mobile data isn’t really upto scratch just yet, everywhere. It might be spotty or expensive. Well, if you’re in Africa, Google’s got your back.

Before we move on, here’re some stats from InsightsAfrica about mobile phone usage:

Here’s how many people own a Mobile Phone:

Data as of 2010-2011. Chart Available here.

And here’s the SMS usage (Received SMS):

Data as of 2010-2011. Chart Available here.


Makes sense then that Google launched SMS based GMail services in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

From the Official Google Africa Blog:


Send and receive Gmail on your phone as SMS

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | 2:23 PM

Email has become a part of everyday life. There’s so much you do with it: apply for a job, make an inquiry, get notifications from your social network, receive photos or an invitation that makes you smile, and just communicate back and forth with your friends.

The Gmail team at Google puts in a lot of effort to make sure messages are delivered as soon as you hit “send”. However, sometimes barriers arise between you and your email.  What if you’re not by a computer? Or your phone is not connected to the internet? Or the internet is down or too slow, so that emails just won’t load?
To help solve these issues, we’ve created Gmail SMS.  We’re excited to be making this new service available in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. You can now send and receive emails as SMS messages using your mobile phone, regardless of whether or not your phone has an internet connection, like Wifi or 3G. Gmail SMS works on any phone, even the most basic ones which only support voice and SMS.
Gmail SMS automatically forwards your emails as SMS text messages to your phone and you can respond by replying directly to the SMS. You can control the emails received by replying with commands such as MORE, PAUSE and RESUME. Additionally, compose a new email as an SMS and send to any email address recipient – who will find your message in the right email conversation thread!


Read on for more details, here.


Source: Google Africa Blog.

Trash your emails on Gmail when you delete them from your Windows Phone

I’m sure most people who access their mails from Gmail on a Windows Phone have seen this issue. When you delete the emails on your phone, the emails still stay in your Inbox of Gmail when you access it from the web.

I access my emails while I’m out and scan through quite a bit of them and delete the unwanted emails so I don’t have to look at them later. Now when I get back to the PC, they’re still in my Gmail Inbox when I check on the web; Undeleted. *grumble*. This is an irritant, since I’ve now got to go and delete them all over again in the web interface.

There seems to be no settings I could see of in Windows Phone to get over this behaviour and get Gmail to actually “Trash” the emails when I deleted them from my phone. I’m not sure who’s at fault here Google or Microsoft, but there should be some way to get over this problem.

Google Sync Settings to the Rescue

Hidden away in a special URL ( is where you can get this done. Head over to that URL from your Phone’s Browser, and you’ll be prompted to enter your Google Account details. Don’t bother using your desktop browser, it doesn’t work. You’ll have to use Internet Explorer on your phone for this task.

Once you log in with your details, you’ll land up on a screen where you can see a list of phones and devices which you’ve used to access Gmail from (see the pic on the right). I was surprised to see quite a few of my older devices listed here, including the good old E71 including a “SmartPhone” (I wonder which one that was).

Now select your Windows Phone which you’re currently syncing with to get to the next screen where you get the magical setting. Here just check the option to “Delete Email As Trash for this device”, save the settings and you’re done.

The next time you get your emails, all you have to do is to delete the email on your phone and it’s “Trashed” in Gmail as well.

Happy Emailing. If you have other tips to share with us, do send us a tweet @myportableworld or leave us a comment below.