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June 1, 2013

The Curious Case of Google Hangouts History

Do you remember the post about the updated Gmail chat logs? The new interface is only displayed for Google Hangouts conversations, while the old interface is still used for Google Talk/Chat conversations.

The updated interface no longer treats chat logs like regular Gmail messages, so many features like reply, forward, label, "move to inbox" are gone. You can no longer disable chat history from Gmail's settings, but you can click "delete Hangout history" to "permanently delete all messages" in a Hangout.

Google Hangouts logs are loaded dynamically, as you can see in this screenshot. This suggests that the logs aren't really stored like standard Gmail messages.


I clicked the "print" icon next to one of my Hangouts and I was surprised to notice that the print preview page only included a few messages, not the entire conversation.

In fact, Google Hangouts logs are only displayed in the regular desktop Gmail interface. They're nowhere to be found in the "basic HTML" interface or in the mobile Gmail sites/apps, not even when you use the search feature.

Here are the search results for label:chat in the desktop interface. There are two kinds of results: conversations from Gmail Chat and Hangouts and they have different icons.


The basic HTML results only include Gmail Chat conversations:


Here's the mobile Gmail:


I disabled the conversation view in Gmail's settings to see how this affects Hangouts logs. Each reply was displayed in its own separate message, so a Hangout generated tens of message. Google Hangouts logs are unusable if you disable conservation view.



A very basic feature that worked well ever since Google Talk was launched is now broken: buggy, more limited and less useful.

{ Thanks, Katty. }

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