I'm sorry to post a full newbie post here regarding this but I'm trying to settle some debate and confusion online about Hangouts 2.0
Basically has google "done it right" this time and copied iMessage? (No, I'm not an Apple fanboy)
The advantage of iMessage is that it defaults to data when possible, fallsback to SMS when it has to.
It's also completely seamless, this is handled for you - no need to manually change from data to SMS mode or anything.
2 more points:
iMessage allows you to SMS a "new" phone number for someone you've never encountered before, iMessage detects the phone number is "iMessage-able" and simply sends via data, no kind of handshake / friendship needs to be setup
There's no "online" status required of iMessage, you need not "log in" or always be set to online, it's an SMS app natively but you can communicate with people over data without them knowing you're necessarily "online"
The advantages as follows.
Cheapest possible was of conversing with friends (assuming your SMS plan is NOT unlimited, I'm in a country where it's pricey)
Privacy / "aloofness" - the lack of an online / offline requirement allows you to ignore a message and respond at your leisure, be it 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days. If someone however sees a green O next to your name with Hangouts, the social pressure / obligation to reply is there, you can't just relax if that makes sense (I guess this is an introvert feature)
Sorry for the long post but I'm hearing conflicting reports online that google STILL screwed it up - but that's from people who have obtained the Hangouts 2.0 APK file and do NOT have 4.4 KitKat, rumour has it that's required for the full backend SMS "engine" update to work like iMessage?
Thanks all, really appreciate your time.
EDIT: This also covers what I'm trying to clarify.