Google has made a big change to Hangouts to improve audio and video quality by connecting call participants directly “when possible.” By cutting out its own servers, Google hopes to provide users with a greater Hangouts experience.
Until now, both participants in a Hangouts call connected to a Google server, which acted as a middleman. But with direct peer-to-peer connections, that middleman is removed, and the possibly of a poor connection that leads to bad call quality is greatly reduced.
What’s unclear for now, however, is the criteria for peer-to-peer calling. It’s thought it will always work between two people using the latest version of Android, but Google hasn’t yet explained if iOS devices are eligible, or if older hardware could be exempt.
If you’re using a newer Android handset and calling someone else who owns a newer Android handset, you should experience much clearer calls than you did before. Eventually, peer-to-peer calling will likely become standard for Hangouts, but for now it seems a nice bonus.