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Peer to Peer connections are coming to Google Hangouts

Call quality and speed issues often make it difficult for users to fully embrace video and audio calling over the internet. To help solve this, Google has updated its video and audio communications service Hangouts by allowing peer to peer (p2p) connections for some users.

By incorporating this functionality into the back-end of its service the company expects call quality and the overall experience of its users to improve.

This new feature began rolling out to Hangouts users this week and was first spotted by a user using the service's Android app. Google will not be using p2p connections for all of the calls it handles through the service and will only be using this feature for some calls. Android is not the only platform that will be receiving this update. It will be coming to Hangouts for iOS, Windows 10 and the web.

A support document for Hangouts detailed the service's new p2p connections by describing them as a new way which will allow the service a better and more efficient way of routing calls directly from user to user by bypassing Google's own servers. By eliminating the middle man, the speed at which calls are connected should increase as well as the quality of the calls.

The user experience of Google Hangouts will be improved with this new update but some security concerns might arise from the use of p2p connections. Skype has been using p2p connections for years to increase call quality but the service shows the IP addresses of its users. This made its users vulnerable to potential attacks since it was quite easy to obtain someone's IP address by just knowing their Skype name. Thankfully last month, Skype decided to hide its users IP addresses by default to make these kinds of attacks more difficult.

Google is most likely aware of the issues Skype has faced and has probably taken steps to prevent such attacks from happening to its users. The increased speed and call quality may increase the popularity and user base of Google Hangouts.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Yeamake

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.