Review: As Google's pet messaging app, Hangouts offers plenty of perks

Chat with your friends and enjoy free video calls with this messaging app.

When Google gave Talk a stylish makeover to bring you Hangouts, it added free video chat and a new messaging style to an already powerful messaging app. It keeps all of the look and feel of Talk while adding great Google+ integration. It's a must-download if your Android gadget doesn't already have it.

If you already have Google Talk, this app will install itself the next time you update. It lets you chat with any of your friends that have a Google account. You can send them a message or invite them to video chat with you a la Skype. Hangouts also includes emoji and free photo attachments to any message you want to send. The app's layout fits right in with any other app designed by Google and almost perfectly mimics your phone's settings menu. Video chats can include up to 10 people, but does require you to have a Google+ account. Since most Android owners get one by default, this isn't too much of a problem. The app's video chat function supports both cameras on your phone, but you can't leave a message if your party doesn't answer.

Though some apps that come on your phone are a burden, this one would be worth downloading anyway. Hangouts makes it easy to send people messages no matter where you are or what you're doing. Google's using it to make a serious swipe at iMessage, and the company's hard work shows in its nearly flawless performance.

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