Google builds a standalone Hangouts website

Google has built Hangouts its own website, but it's not spinning it out of Gmail completely like the company did with several properties to form its new parent corporation. It's just one of the (many, many) ways to access the messaging service, in case you'd rather not keep Gmail open or your default browser is Firefox/MS Edge and, hence, can't install the Chrome extension. The website's photo background changes every few minutes like Chromecast's, and it has quick links to video calling, voice calling and messaging.

A new tab launches when you click "Video Call" and asks for permission to access your webcam, while the usual Hangouts chat window appears when you click "Message." "Phone Call" displays your contacts on the white panel above. Finally, the hamburger button on the top left corner opens a pop-out menu that links to Hangouts' listing on Google Play, iTunes and Chrome. You can access the new website by loading this pretty predictable URL: