Google testing new direct-to-business chat platform powered by Hangouts

Matt Gibstein on Twitter: %22Super interesting: @Google search now offering the ability to chat with local businesses (a la @Path Talk). http:::t.co:eksoBhZ6wk%22 2015-02-24 16-08-49

Google is testing an interesting new feature in search, as spotted by one Matt Gibstein on Twitter. As you can see in the above screenshot, there’s a small “Chat” icon next to the phone number of a business called “Dizengoff” in Philadelphia—and it looks like clicking it will launch you into a chat session directly with that business via Hangouts.  Read more

Google testing a new virtual ‘Genius Bar’ for Google Play customer service

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Google has used its Hangouts technology in many ways over the last couple of years, and one big way was the introduction of a new service called “Helpouts” that lets people sell their expertise to others over video conferencing. Now, it looks like Google is bringing Hangouts to a new area: customer service on the Google Play store.

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British prime minister says he’ll ban encrypted chat apps if he can’t see your messages

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For several months we’ve followed the U.S. government’s attempts to work around encryption in chat apps, even taking the hyperbole to an illogical extreme at one point, but we haven’t yet seen similar threats from other nations… or at least, we hadn’t until today.

British prime minister David Cameron said today that unless the government is given backdoor access to encrypted messaging services, he’s just going to outlaw them:

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Google Hangouts for Android getting smarter with natural language parsing, consolidated contacts

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You’ve long been able to share your location with contacts in Hangouts chats, but the Google Hangouts for Android app is today getting a little smarter, noting when someone has asked where you are and automatically prompting you to share your location on a map.

Google indicates that this is merely the first step in building more intelligence into the app, describing it as “the start of something new.” Future versions of the app are thus likely to recognize more questions, offering the ability to answer them with a single tap.

The latest update to the app – which is rolling out during the course of the day – also offers a number of other new features …  Read more

Google Voice adds Verizon MMS support, native MMS for photo

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Google Voice has been granted a pretty decent update today, bringing the service to support MMS via a new carrier: Verizon Wireless. Additionally, Google has added native MMS support to the service for photo messaging and—if you choose to opt for Google Voice in Hangouts—you’ll be able to send photos as MMS like you would with any other normal attachment.

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Google Hangouts scores poorly in EFF’s study of most secure messaging services

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a report examining three dozen messaging services and ranking them based on what it deemed are seven “security best practices.” While Apple scored the best among what the EFF called “mass-market options”, it along with Google and others didn’t do as well when compared to all 36 messaging services included in the report. Specifically, EFF noted Google’s services “lack the end-to-end encryption that is necessary to protect against disclosure by the service provider.” Read more

Google Hangouts now supports free one minute voice calls in 25 countries

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Google recently announced that the first minute of voice calls through Hangouts will be free in 25 different countries. The search giant’s messaging app currently supports video chats and free domestic voice calls, but the company charges a different set of rates when a user places a call abroad. While you can purchase call credit for those longwinded long distance conversations, Google’s new offering is a reasonable option for quick calls or important (but brief) messages.

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Hangouts isn’t going anywhere, Google explains Android’s new Messenger app

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Google announced a plethora of goodies today and while we’ve been seeing several shots the company’s latest hardware, we keep noticing unfamiliar software icons hanging out on Mountain View’s new devices. Pictured above is a shot of Google’s new Messenger app that will be shipping with the Nexus 6 as part of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

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Google Hangouts for Android updated with Google Voice integration, free VoIP calls

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It’s finally all coming together. As many suspected would eventually happen, Google Hangouts is finally—in an update rolling out over the next few days—going to be getting integration with Google Voice. The latter service seemed to definitely be getting neglected by Google as of late, with much of the company’s focus going to its Hangouts platform. But it appears that Voice may even moreso eventually become a thing of the past because, starting today, Google is putting it straight into Hangouts as part of a new update to its apps across Android, iOS, and the web.

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