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hangouts

Hangouts, the free multiperson video chat and messaging service inside Google+, has been broken out into its own standalone applications for iOS, Android, and Chrome.

“Technology can just go away and people can focus on what makes them happiest, just hanging out.” Google SVP Vic Gundotra said today at Google I/O.

The new Hangouts service unifies all communication across Google’s platforms. It’s replacing all prior apps like Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Hangout video chats with Hangouts. This new app handles texts, shares photos, video chats, and more.

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No matter which app you use to access Hangouts, you’ll have access to a list of conversations that it backs up in the cloud. You’ll be able to message people even if they aren’t online.

Importantly, Hangouts will challenge WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other popular messaging services that are supplanting traditional text messaging.

The Hangout apps for iOS, Android, and Chrome will be available today.

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