Make no mistake about it, BBM and WhatsApp are great messaging apps in their own right. They are arguably the best. Nevertheless, there are 4 areas in which Google Hangouts trumps them:

Multi-device syncing and support

On the one, BBM and WhatsApp officially support mobile only. Well, there’s the exception of official BBM support for iPad but still, no support for PC. A bigger annoyance is the fact that they let you use only one device at a time, for the same account. In all fairness, switching devices on BBM only requires a touch of a button – provided you stay logged in on each device you want to use – but you lose your conversation history. WhatsApp is clear it doesn’t want you switching devices at your every whim.

Google Hangouts on the other hand will let you chat simultaneously on as many devices as possible. I could be chatting on my tab one moment and later switch to my phone or PC, and it’s like the conversation never broke because syncing conversations is seamless, unlike one other IM client I know (rhymes with “type”). In fact, the only other app that probably comes close to kicking as much ass in multi-device syncing is Facebook Messenger.

Group Messaging

If you’ve never used group messaging on Google Hangouts, you will never understand how much it rocks. But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it; let Crackberry evangelist, Kevin Michaluk, himself tell you why he believes Google Hangouts has the best group messaging

10-way voice and video calling

Looking to throw an online party? Skype, BBM and WhatsApp can like to take several backseats. Hangouts will let you make a conference video or voice calls with as many as 10 members simultaneously, for free, and regardless of what device they’re on – tablet, phone, PC. It includes tons of fun features without compromising call quality. Did I mention conference video calling is free?

*Update*: Skype now has free 10-way video calling.

SMS integration

It’s a tad bit superfluous having all your messaging services diversified into independent apps.  Google Hangouts lets you integrate all your messages – SMS, IMs and whatnot – into one single app, reclaiming some order into your already haphazard life.

Besides the above features, Google Hangouts is a quite decent messaging app in its own right. I don’t know about you but for me, any messaging app that can give me those four things and more is definitely a winner in my books. However, the unfortunate reality is that most of your regular contacts never use Hangouts. The fact that it’s available only on Android, iOS and PC sure doesn’t help matters. I don’t even imagine that it will ever be coming to Blackberry or Windows Phone. Especially not Windows Phone. I guess it’s back to using Whatsapp and BBM like everyone else.

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox