I’ve been on the lookout for a Google Hangouts desktop app for the Mac and there are actually few decent choices out there.
First off, I don’t want to run a Chrome extension and I don’t want to have to keep Gmail open in the background. That works for some, but it’s either out of sight, out of mind, or it’s jumping up in front of everything else annoying me. My goal is a Hangout app that can live without a browser.
Recently I found YakYak. YakYak is actually quite impressive. It looks great, works pretty darn good, and it’s free currently. I accidentally stumbled upon it the other day and I’ve been using it ever since. So far, so good, however it’s currently in development and does lack some features; like spell check.
I also purchased Hangouts Plus not long ago. It’s a pretty good app that looks similar to Hangouts. The main downsides are that it’s a paid app, although not too spendy, and it has a weird “feature” where it makes the active chat tab grey and background tabs white. This is backwards to me.
Flamingo was the hot new app not long ago, but recently it went free and then I think development stopped, or slowed way down. It’s a decent app, great interface, spell check, and free. Definitely worth checking out since it’s free, but it’s starting to show the lack of updates as some things don’t seem to work like they should.
Messages and Adium work with Hangouts too, but only for basic text messages. They don’t include some of the bells and whistles and they don’t do a good job at marking things as read in Gmail. When I go back into Gmail, I hate seeing unread Hangout conversations when I’ve already completed those conversations.
At the end of the day, there really isn’t any great Hangouts desktop app for the Mac. There are some pretty good choices, but Hangouts is still best in the browser, even if some of us don’t want to be locked in the browser.