Comparing the video conferencing merits of Google Hangouts with those of Appear.In is like matching the present up against the future. Hangouts is a fully formed, established app with all the features of today’s leading video callers. It’s also firmly anchored to the Gmail and G Suite communities.
Appear.In, by contrast, is still more of a concept. It floats in cyberspace on the anonymous, instantly accessible technology of WebRTC browser-based video calling that will power more than six billion devices before the decade is out. Even when the technology becomes that commonplace, however, it’ll act more as a conduit for business and the Internet of Things (IoT), places where you might want to connect with people you don’t personally know, making anonymous, account-less calling more attractive.
If you’re looking to make social video calls, or for a platform that will act as the backbone of an office setup, you need something permanent, searchable, and personalized. That’s what Hangouts was designed for, and that’s what gives it the lead in the battle of Appear.In vs Hangouts.
Hangouts Is for Hanging Out, Face-to-Face
It’s not entirely clear what Google has in mind for Hangouts over the coming years. It seems like it will be pushed over into the subscription side of the Google Suite, leaving new one-to-one video calling app Duo to cater for the social side of life. For now, though, Hangouts still acts as one of the more accessible and feature-packed video calling apps in your favorite app store.
It works across Android, iPhone (although it’s a little clunky on Apple’s turf), PC, and Mac. It’s one of the better group calling options, with an active speaker feature that automatically switches the focus of a call to whomever is currently doing the talking, saving valuable space on small smartphone screens. And, as mentioned earlier, it’s linked to the most popular email service in the world, Gmail, so it’s easy to join (Google likely has your info already so you’re not handing over anything sensitive) and easy to find friends worth video calling.
Google Duo has been given a stronger feature for automatically switching between wifi and mobile coverage, but Hangouts is still a reliable performer wherever you can find a signal.
Most importantly, Hangouts sits within a fully furnished suite of related products like Google Docs and Gmail, making it a complementary as well as standalone product. With Appear.In, however, you are all alone. At least until you send out some invites.
Hassle-Free Video Calling with Appear.In
Being free from a broader network is pretty much the point of using Appear.In. It’s lean, and agile, and getting started is fast. Very fast. In VC Daily’s first review of the Appear.In app we were able to go from Google search to meeting a friend within a private, personalized video chat room within two minutes. WebRTC tech uses the software already present within compatible browsers, like Google Chrome, to stage video calls, so there are no downloads, or accounts, or stopping to hand over your email or phone number. You just pick a name for your room, send an invite to a friend, and start chatting face-to-face.
That streamlined experience comes at the cost of some standard video conferencing features, however. You can’t record video calls, exchange files, or slip out of a group chat and into a breakout room for more intimate discussions. And, while you can reuse the same private room, there’s no built-in calendar function, or link to a third-party source, which makes it hard to schedule a meeting in advance. You’ll have to do it by text or email, and have invitees create their own reminders.
That’s what ultimately makes Appear.In impractical for anything but a last minute get together between people who don’t share a common video calling app. Until the more popular apps, like Facebook Messenger and Skype, put aside their differences and let people video call across platforms, Appear.In’s offer of neutral territory will remain its biggest asset…but they’ll get there soon enough. Cortana and Alexa are already becoming chummy.
That leaves Appear.In with an expiring point of difference, and a lack of standard video calling features.
Appear.In vs Hangouts: A Clear Winner Emerges
Our opinion on this comparison is pretty clear. Hangouts is the more practical, more functional of the two apps and the better choice for anyone looking for a social or professional video calling platform. Appear.In, for the moment at least, is more like a product demonstration for WebRTC technology than a fully formed video calling solution.
There’s little doubt anonymous video calling without downloads or accounts attached to personal information is the way of the future–Skype has begun trialing guest video conferencing already–but users shouldn’t have to sacrifice functionality in order to benefit.
Image Source: Flickr CC User Wesley Fryer