In an effort to boost the quality and speed of its flagship messaging app, Google revamps Hangouts with tech from the dawn of the Internet – peer-to-peer (p2p) connections. Google developers explained that p2p technology is faster and more reliable than VPN because it simplifies the way devices communicate to one another.
But Using P2P will mean that communications via Hangouts will dodge Google servers and use user’s devices as nodes for the connection. The tech giant said that the upgrade will reach all users this week.
There are already user reports claiming that they spotted a difference in their Android apps after the upgrade. But experts say that most users won’t notice any difference unless all their friends upgrade their app.
A Google representative recently replied to a request fro comment by saying that the app would use P2P ‘when possible.’ This means that Hangouts won’t resort to the decades-old tech all times. It will dodge Google’s servers only when a direct link between users can be established.
Theoretically, such link can be established by default if both users employ the latest version of the Android app. The company also said that it is working to roll out the upgrade for all platforms, iOS and the web included.
On the Hangouts website, there’s a brief description of peer-to-peer connectivity. P2P doesn’t need the conversation to the routed through a third-party server, i.e. Google’s, because it allows users call their peers directly. As a result, audio and video communications are less likely to get throttled, unless one of the users has internet connection problems.
While this may be good news to users that have been constantly complaining about the quality of their call quality via Hangouts, for other users it may be a reason of concern. Some users dislike the idea because the 2P2 exposes their IP address and, therefore, approximate location.
Fortunately, unlike old school P2P-based messaging apps Hangouts doesn’t include a feature to display people’s IP addresses. Microsoft’s Skype, which ditched P2P tech three years ago, had an option to find out users’ IPs which exposed devices to malicious attacks. But the good news for calls made through P2P is that they are harder if not nearly impossible to track by governmental agencies.
Peer-to-peer technology is as old as the Internet. P2P networking possibilities have been explored by universities and the military since the days of ARPANET – the first network of computers that inspired Internet’s infrastructure.
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