Google Hangouts is changing up its back-end technology a bit; it can now use peer-to-peer (p2p) connections to improve call quality.
The addition was first noted in the Android app by Reddit user kxra, and it’s likely the app is using the Google-developed WebRTC API, which supports p2p data transfer. The feature would come to all Hangouts platforms, too, not just Android.
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VentureBeat contacted Google about the change, and was told Hangouts will now route audio and video over p2p connections “when possible” in order to improve call quality and speed. In other words, Hangouts will connect users’ computers directly instead of routing calls through Google’s servers.
That should theoretically assure much better call quality, but some users may be worried about having their IP addresses exposed (see last month’s Skype news). So far though, it seems there’s no way to recover someone’s IP address from Hangouts, and the improved call quality may be worth it.