Google Hangouts and Skype aren’t as popular as they used to be. However, they still have devoted fans that use the services for personal as well as business communication. The basic premise of both is the same, but there are a lot of differences between the two chat services in terms of features they offer. Which one comes out on top in the Hangouts vs Skype battle comes down to exactly what you want and need from a messaging service.
In this post, we compare the two services side-by-side and explain their differences as well as similarities. We also quickly go through which one is better for business users and explain the paid option they offer for companies that need extra features. Let’s dive in.
Hangouts vs Skype: Similarities
Both Hangouts and Skype offer the basic features expected from a messaging app. They allow you to send messages to your contacts as well as make video and audio calls. You also have the option of sharing files like videos, images, and documents, among others. Group chat is supported by both services, although the limitations each one has in place are different and will be discussed later on in this article.
Both services can be used on the web and mobile devices and support a number of different platforms (Windows, Android, iOS…). Messages are synced between devices, so you can pick up where you left off if you decide to switch from a PC to your phone in the middle of a chat, for example.
Skype and Hangouts are both free.
As you would expect, both services are completely free. However, both offer the option of adding credit to your account that can then be used to call any phone number from your Hangouts or Skype account and pay for it by the minute. It’s not something most people need, but it’s there for those that do.
In terms of quality and speed, I’ve tested all the major features of each one, including sending messages and making video/audio calls and I did not see a major difference between the two.
Hangouts vs Skype: Differences
Despite being quite similar at first glance, the two services are very, very different. Hangouts is a much simpler and less feature-packed than Skype.
For example, Skype lets you delete and edit the messages you have sent. You can also react to messages with various emoji and quote messages as well as forward them to a different contact. You can even send audio messages hassle-free and create polls. With Google Hangouts, you get none of that.
Then there’s video chat. You can group chat with up to 50 people on Skype, while Hangouts allows for up to 25 people. Skype also offers a bunch of great features for video chat that come in handy for small businesses, various online meetings, or just a casual conversation between two friends. You can share your screen with others, record the chat, and even turn on subtitles and have the words spoken during a call displayed on your screen.
Hangouts, on the other hand, offers nothing like that. It just lets you see and speak with one or more people, and that’s more or less it. There are no useful extra feature available like with Skype. You can use filters, though, which make the conversation a bit more interesting. For example, you can put on a pirate hat on your head with the press of a button, but that feature is only available on desktops.
Next up, let’s talk about encryption. Both Skype and Hangouts encrypt the data between your device and the companies’ servers. That means it’s very hard — if not impossible — for someone to snoop on your conversation while you’re on public Wi-Fi, but both Microsoft (Skype owner) and Google (Hangouts owner) can technically see your messages and other activity if they want to.
However, unlike Hangouts, Skype also offers end-to-end encryption, which basically means that the messages you send can’t be seen by Microsoft or anyone else. To use this feature, you have to open up a “Private conversation” with a contact. The down side of this is that you lose out on a number of features including options to edit, delete, and forward messages.
There’s also a big difference between the two services when it comes to the user interface. Although this comes down to personal preference, I have to say that Skype has a more modern design that’s a lot easier on the eyes than Hangouts.
While both services are available on loads of platforms, only Skype has a Windows app, while Hangouts has to be used via a browser on PC. However, the advantage of Hangouts is that you can use it with a Google account, which you likely already have. You have to sign up for a Microsoft account to use Skype (if you don’t have one already), which isn’t a big deal but is definitely something that’s worth mentioning.
Another thing worth mentioning is the advertisements. Unfortunately, you’ll see annoying ads in Skype’s apps. During my time using Hangout, however, I haven’t seen a single one, which made the entire experience a lot better.
Hangouts vs Skype: Which one is right for you?
There’s no doubt that Skype is the superior option. It looks a lot nicer and offers a lot more features. I especially like the ability to edit or delete the messages sent, as well as the option to react to the messages received. I also like that I can start a private conversation that offers end-to-end encryption, although I’d prefer if every message I sent or call I made would offer this protection — just like Viber, Signal, and a few other apps.
Skype is a better option overall.
For me, personally, the choice is clear. I’d take Skype over Hangouts any day of the week. However, that may not be true for everyone. We have to keep in mind that Hangouts has advantages over Skype as well, although just a few ones.
The first one is the lack of ads, which is a good enough reason for some to overlook Skype and go with Hangouts instead. The second is that Hangouts is a part of your Google account, so you don’t have to sign up for the service individually. The same password you use for Gmail and YouTube can also be used to sign into Hangouts. Although once you’re signed into one service, you’re automatically signed into all of them.
So to sum up, if you want a simple app that does all the basic features right and doesn’t come with loads of bells and whistles you don’t really care about, Google Hangouts is right up your alley. But if you want as many features as possible, Skype is the way to go.
If you’re still having second thoughts about which one to use as your primary messaging app, test them both out for yourself to get some hands-on experience. Also, take into consideration which of these two apps are used by your friends and family. A messaging service is meaningless if you don’t have anyone to chat with, regardless of how good it might be.
Note: Please keep in mind that Google plans on killing off its Hangouts app. It will be replaced by Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, which are already available for business customers — more on that in the next section. Consumers are expected to get access to them this year.
Hangouts vs Skype for business use
For one-on-one or group business-related video chats, Skype is a much better option. It allows up to 50 people to join in, instead of just 25 supported by Hangouts. Skype also lets you record a meeting as well as share what’s on your screen. But despite being better, it’s still not suitable for a lot of businesses, as it lacks many features. These include the ability to turn off your mic or the mic of one of the participants.
For that reason, both companies have paid services aimed at businesses, big and small. Google has two: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. The first one allows for secure team messaging, either one-on-one or within a group chat. Hangouts Meet, on the other hand, is a video and voice conferencing tool that allows for up to 250 participants per call on its most expensive plan.
Microsoft used to offers a service called Skype for Business but it replaced it with Microsoft Teams, a service that combines messaging as well as video conferencing into one.
Hangouts Chat and Meet are part of Google’s G Suite subscription plans that bring you a bunch of other useful services. Pricing starts at just $6 per user. Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, is free, but it only allows for messaging and file sharing between team members. To get the video conferencing feature included in your plan, you’ll have to pay at least $5 per user. And just like Google’s G Suite, Microsoft Teams also includes other services like OneDrive storage and more.
The two services are very different from each other because of all the extra features they come with, making it impossible to proclaim one as the winner. Both get the job done, though. The best thing to do is to check the pricing offered by both services along with the included features via the buttons above and then decide which is a better fit for your business needs.
There you have it — these are the main differences and similarities between the two services. Which one do you think comes out on top in the Hangouts vs Skype battle? Let us know in the comments!