Google has released a new stand-alone app and unified communication platform for Hangouts. Now, Google+ users can initiate both text and video chats with other Google+ members at any time by launching a new hangout. For many, this has resulting in a bombardment of notifications from people wanting to chat, and attempting to launch chats with entire circles.
First, like most other apps, the Hangouts app comes with Notification settings that should be reviewed. If you want to have a visual or audio notification that someone wants to hangout with you, make sure you adjust your settings accordingly.
But what’s new and interesting is that with Hangouts, you can have a far more fine-grained control over what you get notified on.
Open the Hangouts app and tap on the gear icon to access Settings. Here, you have access to change your profile pic, “snooze” your notifications for a determined amount of time (a Do Not Disturb option), view your Hangout Requests as well as your Archived Hangouts. Remember that Hangouts are now like instant messages or SMS messages – you will retain the conversation and can pick it up again whenever you want.
There’s also a setting for “Customize new requests” which will allow you to change the default settings for requests from people who haven’t contacted you yet – people you aren’t already in an existing hangout with.
Tapping the Customize option reveals a list of every circle you’ve created, along with an option for Public. You can now adjust settings on a per circle basis.
The two available options are “Hangout with you” and “Request only.” This allows you determine ahead of time, according to how you’ve organized people in your circles, how you want to handle an invitation to hangout. It works along the same lines as Google+ Messages within the app. When someone messages you for the first time, it comes through to you as a request to chat. Hangouts can be set the same way. Simply select a circle and choose whether or not you want people within that circle to have to request to hangout, or if they have your permission in advance to automatically start a new hangout.
While Public and the standard circles are “Request only” be default, you will likely find that all of your custom circles are “Hangout with you” so you may have several adjustments to make.
Run through them and set them however you think best and see how that goes for a few days or a week. You can come back and change a circle setting any time you wish.
What other features or settings have you noticed?