Google introduced the new Android and iOS app during the keynote at its annual developers conference. The app is designed to make it easier for users to communicate with their friends through Google by sending messages or making video calls, whether from their smartphone, tablet or computer.
When the app is used on a smartphone or a cellular-connected tablet, Hangouts can also send messages using an individual's data plan. Making video calls over cellular networks is also allowed by most major carriers, but when Android AT&T users try the feature, they are getting a message telling them they must be on a Wi-Fi network to make a video call.
When asked why this is happening, AT&T blamed Google and the smartphone makers. In a statement, AT&T said apps downloaded from the Internet can be used to make video calls over its cellular network. But when it comes to apps that are pre-installed, the software developers and the phone makers have to work with AT&T to enable the ability to make cellular video calling.
"It's up to each OS and device makers to enable their systems to allow pre-loaded video chat apps to work over cellular for our customers on those plans," AT&T said in a statement.
This isn't the first time the company has blocked some of its customers from using video-calling apps over its cellular network.
When Apple rolled out iOS 6 last September and made it possible to make video calls using its FaceTime service over cellular networks, AT&T only allowed users on its shared data plan to use the feature. Over the next few months and after much pressure by advocacy groups, AT&T began allowing more customers to use the feature. However, it still blocks users with unlimited data plans from making FaceTime video calls over its cellular network.
Now, it seems AT&T may be doing the same with Google's new app.