Google Continues to Dismantle Hangouts – Kills App Integration

Are you a VOIP Gamer? Do you use Google Hangouts? Then you might want to listen up. Recently Google announced they will be ending their API support on 25 April 2017. What does this mean for all of us that game through Google Hangouts?

What is API support? API support permits developers to make apps that work inside of or in line with Google Hangouts. In short, the changes means, Google is no longer going to allow app developers to create new apps for use in Hangouts and existing apps will only function until 25 April 2017. For those of us that rely heavily on apps like DiceStream or Roll20, your days are numbered. Hangouts will still function and operate normally. Although this may be the death knell for hangouts using the legacy interface in favor of the new Hangout format.

On, 10 Jan 2017, Roll20 announced that they are working to expeditiously enhance their audio and visual capabilities through their own virtual tabletop. As a gaming platform that had invested in Google Hangout integration, there are bound to be some ruffled feathers. I suspect Roll20 will be a better product in the end.

If you are currently a Roll20 user and do you NOT use the Roll20 app through Hangouts, then you will be not be bothered by the change. You can still use Hangouts (newer interface) and Roll20 directly through the web with no change in user experience; so far as I can tell. If you use the Roll20 app in Hangouts you will have limited usability moving forward. I would suggest you read up on their announcement.

Google has granted a reprieve of sorts to several apps, these are Slack, Hangout OnAir Toolbox and a dialing app. Roll20 was not part of this reprieve and there is no word yet on how long Google will continue to allow these apps to continue to function.

There does seem to be some hidden implications as a result of the Google announcement. The dismantling of Hangouts’ functionality continues and this has me a little concerned. Some may see this as Google trying to push us towards some of their newer social connecting apps likes Allo and Duo which are exclusively mobile interfaces which were designed to compete with apps like WhatsApp and Periscope.

Hopefully, the future is not as dim as it might seem right now for online VOIP gaming through Google Hangouts. Obviously, there are other ways to communicate, but I have found Hangouts to be the best of the available options.

~ Modoc

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