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Google Hangouts is a surprisingly, truly amazing product, marred by its relationship with Google+.

How would it work in your ideal world?

Even if you don't want to use Google+, why can't you think of it as just another account you have to make. Imagine Hangouts was a great stand-alone product made by a start-up. You'd still need a whole different account to use that stand-alone Hangouts product.

So I'd suggest just looking at it like that, if you really don't want anything to do with the whole Google+ part of Hangouts. Plus, it looks like Google wants to make Hangouts work in more of their services than just Google+, and I think that's a great idea. They could probably implement Hangouts in a lot of their other products, to get people to "video socialize" around them, and maybe build fun ways to use it with those other products.

Can't answer for the OP, but for me it would be super-convenient if I could launch a hangout from Google Talk.

I agree, but I think it's ever so slightly ahead of its time, being a bit sluggish on most calls. It'll catch up if they polish what they have in place of expanding feature-set at some point though.

And agreed about the G+ relationship - happy to see it moving into gmail.

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