Hangouts vs Skype: A comparison

3 years ago, I used 5 different messaging protocols. I used Google Talk, Live Messenger, Facebook, Steam, and Skype. I didn’t have a lot of contacts on any of them, but I did have a few, and I used Trillian to keep everything together and neat. Then, Live Messenger got merged with Skype, Google Talk became Hangouts, my Steam friends list expanded, and I started using Facebook less and less, to the point where the only time I use it to chat with people is if there’s literally no other way to contact them.

Then, I started only using Skype, because I didn’t have a lot of people on Hangouts (and still don’t), and Steam wasn’t really cutting it anymore. Skype was great for a while, then I finally got some active friends on Hangouts and started using that more often.

These days I primarily use Hangouts and Skype. I occasionally receive messages about silly things on Steam, but Hangouts and Skype are my main ones, and I wanted to write this post to compare the two services and give my pros and cons about the two.

Skype

Skype hasn’t gotten any real improvements besides lifting the limit on how many people you can have in a video call, but it’s still alright. I really like the keyboard shortcuts, but hate how it knocks you out of games and makes itself the active window no matter what your settings are, whenever someone calls you or you hang up (via keyboard shortcut).

Pros: 

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Native Windows app
  • Works very well most of the time
  • Offline messages, sorta…

Cons:

  • Every action, even by keyboard shortcuts, makes Skype the active window, no matter if your status is set to Do Not Disturb or not.
  • When you’re “Online”, the call notification window is in your face and exceedingly annoying.
  • Sending messages to offline people doesn’t always work
  • No inline images support; everything you send to the recipient has to be downloaded as a file by the recipient
  • Skype Home is useless, but the Compact View makes every chat open up in a new window, no tabs or anything.
  • No settings to make being Online less annoying, such as hiding the annoying “Contemplative Panda is calling you” window and just playing the call sound, that would be great!
  • The Android app is garbage
  • Sometimes the desktop app does this during video calls:

2014-06-01_12-49-08

Hangouts

Hangouts is great, absolutely love it. It supports inline images, I can choose images from my Google+ albums to share, it’s not super annoying, and best of all I haven’t had to throw me out of a game when someone calls me. However, call notifications aren’t as prominent, and sometimes I don’t even notice when someone’s calling me. And not being a native app, but rather a Chrome extension, has its pros and cons as well, the major con being no keyboard shortcuts.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t throw me out of games when someone calls me
  • Supports inline images
  • Can snooze notifications for a set time
  • Video Hangouts has a lot of cool stuff, the best of which is being able to watch a YouTube video with your friend at the same time
  • Notifications are out of the way
  • The Android app is great
  • Being a Chrome extension, it’s automatically installed when you install Chrome, and you’re automatically signed in to your Google account when that happens

Cons:

  • No keyboard shortcuts
  • Calls default to video instead of audio
  • Awkward navigation when trying to re-open the call window, can’t click on the call in the chat dialog unless you want it to try to start another call
  • Needs Chrome to be running/start up with Windows, otherwise Hangouts isn’t running.

While both apps have their issues, I still prefer Hangouts over Skype any day, but Skype works better sometimes. If only Skype supported images in the chat, didn’t make itself active when getting a call, and had more options regarding the call notifications (like, if I could turn off the call notification while Online but still hear the sound), I’d use Skype more. Oh, and a better Android app would be nice.


Hi! I'm Luke Harris.

I make websites for people.

I'm based in Corpus Christi, Texas, and I have over 10 years of experience making it easy for small business owners, non-profits, and religious organizations to reach more people online.