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Hangouts VS Skype

Data: 22-Apr-2019 Editor: AppsToTalk

Skype and Google Hangouts are both instant messengers with the VoIP support and video calls between their users. There are so many players in the instant messengers field now, that it can be really difficult to find the best solution for personal use. Personal preferences and tastes mean everything, so, most of people use several messengers at once in order to stay in touch with their friends.

Skype is the undisputable world leader of the sphere, it has a long history, an audience of devoted users and it belongs to the giant Microsoft. Hangouts is the product of Google, it was included into the predefined apps set of Android-based smartphones and tablets, there is also an iOS version.

Speaking of Skype vs Hangouts, we talk about the sectorial leader and the product which might become its main rival. Let's see if it is so.

Platforms and versions

Both these products are cross-platform solutions which can be used on both the desktop computers and mobile devices.

Skype has applications for desktop computers on Windows, Mac and Linux, mobile apps for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets and also online browser version called Skype for Web.

Google Hangouts has mobile apps and the browser version. Plus, there is a built-in social chat in Gmail. To use this service on PC you need to install the Hangouts extension for the Chrome browser. This extension can serve as a separate app and supports the options of texting and making video calls. For a phone call you need to go to the browser webchat page. In the browser you can perform all the tasks: send text messages, make video calls and connect with mobile and landline phone numbers.

Skype and Hangouts both have web versions and mobile apps.

When it comes to the desktop computers, Skype offers separate builds for each environment, and Google Hangouts can handle with one Chrome extension. However, you need to have the Chrome browser installed on your PC.

As for mobile apps, the iOS Hangouts app supports texting and phone calls, and the Android app is an instant messenger only, the user should first download and install an additional Telephone app to add the calling functionality into that messenger.

It can be said that this round of the Skype vs Hangouts competition is won by the first one, as it offers one solution for all tasks, while Hangouts requires several items.

Data usage

Like all the other VoIP and video calls services, these two services’ quality will depend on the quality of the Internet connection. The more powerful your bandwidth is, the better sound and video you will obtain.

Both these products are adaptive and adjust their service quality to the resources they have at the moment.

Bandwidth requirements for Hangouts

For personal conversation (inbound and outbound):

Minimum 300 kbps
Preferred 2.6 mbps to guarantee decent video quality.

For group conversation:

2.6 mbps outbound 3.2 mbps inbound for a group of up to 5 participants
4.0 mbps inbound for a group of 5-10 participants.

Data usage per minute:

From 4.5 Mb per minute with a very bad connection to 39 Mb per minute (with a good connection and HD video quality).

Bandwidth requirements for Skype

Minimum 128 kbps, recommended 300 kbps (standard).
Minimum 400 kbps, recommended 500 kbps (HQ).
Minimum 1.2 Mbps, recommended 1.5 Mbps (HD).

Data usage per minute:

0.22 — 0.73 MB (voice calls)
1 — 2.2 MB (video calls standard)
3 — 4 MB (video calls in HQ)
8 — 11 MB (video calls in HD).

Thus, in the Skype vs Hangouts competition, it is Skype that still takes lead due to the data usage, as it consumes less resource.

Account registration

Hangouts is one of Google's products and, like the rest of them, it is tied to one Google account. So, to use this service you need a Gmail account and then access it directly in the Gmail interface or in the browser.

Skype can be registered to a phone number or an email address. Besides, Skype is a Microsoft service; you can use an existing Microsoft account from Outlook, OneDrive, Office etc to log in to Skype as well.

Here both products are equal, both require creating a personal account and both are tied to their owners, Google or Microsoft.

Text chats and video calls

The option of exchanging instant text messages in personal and group chats is present in all builds of both Skype and Hangouts.

The difference is that in Skype all personal chats remain in one program window, while in the Hangouts webchat each new chat will be open in a new window. So, there can be a dozen of windows on the screen. The Chrome extension keeps all chats in one window with the option to separate them if needed.

Skype allow more options to manage the text messages, user can search for something in the chat history, edit, quote and forward messages, which is useful if you have regular conversations.

Hangouts service does not provide such feature. However, all chats logs are saved in Gmail under the “Chats” section, and you can refer to them any time if you need to search for some details in your past conversations.

Smileys and stickers are provided in both messengers, and you can send file attachments too. However, in Skype the user can send files of any types, while in Google Hangouts only images can be sent.

Getting back to the Skype vs Hangouts comparison, priority remains with Skype due to a more convenient interface and more file formats to be sent via the chat.

Video quality is good in both services provided that they have access to the proper bandwidth. There is an option to share screens and run group video conferences, which is convenient for managing group work.

The main inconvenience with Hangouts is that it does not notify about the incoming call on the desktop computer if the webchat page is closed and Google Chrome extension is not installed. That extension will produce notification even if the browser is closed.

However, it can be a draw in this round.

Phone calls

As in all instant messengers with VoIP support, such calls are absolutely free of charge between the internal accounts. As for calling to the usual phone numbers from the application, this is a paid optional service.

In Skype-to-phone you need to either put a certain amount of Credits onto your account to use them each time you'll call to a non-Skype number, or to purchase a subscription package offering a definite number of minutes for calls into the definite countries. The current rates for such calls are lower than the prices of the phone providers.

With Google Hangouts you need an account at Google Voice and top up its balance. You can also get a separate Google Voice number to use it for calls (Skype offers similar option).

To make a phone call from an Android device, you will need to download the Hangouts Telephone app and install it. After that, the phone calls option will be added to the main app. As for the desktop and iOS builds, they already have all the necessary options in them.

The main advantage of Google Hangouts is the price of calls to usual phone numbers. This service offers calls to the USA and Canada for free, no matter where you are located. Calls to other countries are significantly cheaper than the Skype's prices.

Thus, when we talk about Skype vs Hangouts and decide which service is better, the conclusion will depend on the goals the user wants to achieve.

Skype in general has more features and does all tasks with one solution. Hangouts lacks certain features and requires additional plugins to perform properly. However, using this Google service is more beneficial for calls to usual phone numbers due to the lower rates and free calls to the USA and Canada. As for the rest, the choice of the tool will fully depend on personal tastes.