Hangouts, where’s my mute?

I mostly use Hangouts to communicate with friends and family. While at work on my laptop, I use the Chrome extension for Hangouts. The rest of the time I use the iPhone app. The user experience between these two versions is not the same though, because the navigation menu is so different.

I think the iPhone app has the superior layout and use of space.

screenshot of the Hangouts iPhone app with title at the top and a menu bar with options favorite, voice, invite, video, mute, details
Google Hangouts iPhone app

With one tap of the menu icon, you get access to most of the hangout features, the rest of which are available by tapping the “Details” icon.

Conversely, in the browser extension the same features are either missing or work differently.

screenshot of the extension menu bar with icons for video call, people, and options
Google Hangouts extension chat window

I am most annoyed that the ‘Mute’ function is missing because I use it frequently. It’s located under the ‘Options’ icon, labeled “Notifications”, and is turned on/off with a check box.

screenshot of the Hangouts extension 'Options' screen with edit name, notifications check box, history check box, archive, and leave
Google Hangouts extension ‘Options’ screen


After unchecking the “Notifications” box, you have to click ‘Save’ to return to the chat window. The total interaction requires three clicks, context switching, and a confirmation action. After turning off notifications, though, the menu bar displays an indication icon.

menu bar showing a mute icon for the chat
Hangouts extension notifications off

Clicking the ‘Mute’ icon now performs the same action as clicking the ‘Options’ icon and you have to check the “Notifications” checkbox to turn them back on.

Design Recommendations

  1. Add the ‘Mute’ icon and allow for single click to turn notifications on or off
  2. Use consistent labels—change “Notifications” to “Mute” and “Options” to “Details”
screenshot of extension menu bar design with mute icon added and options icon updated to match the app
Updated menu bar with mute icon

Favorites doesn’t seem to be supported in the extension and it never remembers my favorites in the app, so I don’t see this as missing on the desktop. Not including Voice is questionable, it could open up Google Voice, but using that on desktop is also not something I do. Video hangouts cover both.