One-hour apps part two: never miss a Google Hangout meeting again!

A 1 minute read written by Phil November 7, 2013

iPhone with app icon

Here at YP we use Google Hangouts a LOT. And most of the time we love it. We have staff based in four provinces and clients all over North America, so we need an inexpensive, reliable way of meeting online.

There’s just one teeny, tiny problem. If you’re not at your desk, it’s virtually impossible to get into a Google Hangout meeting from an iPhone. This happens to me quite a lot, given I have a four year old, an odd gym schedule, and a bridge as part of my morning commute. I end up trying to text or message colleagues to invite me to the meeting, hoping someone is paying attention to their email or phone.

Maybe Google will fix this one day. But until then – what to do?

  • Moan and complain? Well, yes. But that doesn’t solve the problem.
  • Try to remember to email myself a hangout link from my desktop? That works sometimes if I remember, but I never remember.

  • Follow the lead of fellow YP-er Jordan Yeo and build myself a one-hour app? There’s the ticket!

So here it is: the Hangout Link App, a simple tool that lists all of your upcoming Google Hangout meetings. So bookmark it on your phone, use it when you can’t quite make it to that meeting on time, and, most importantly, inform me of your undying gratitude and/or send me gifts.

I made the app last night on a whim. I’m not a developer by any means, but all it took were some basic JavaScript skills and the persistence to hack away at the Google API until it worked the way I wanted it to. And heck, I even learned a few things along the way:

  1. If you can’t find it, make it.

    Stop complaining about what your tools can’t do and start looking for ways to make them better.

  2. Your users are your most powerful source of ideas

    I’m guessing that the Google Hangouts designers didn’t account for my use case (forgetful + away from my desk a lot + on an iPhone).

As much as we hate to admit it, we designers don’t know everything. Far from it – we work within our own set of knowledge, experiences, and assumptions, with all sorts of time and budget constraints to complicate things. It’s the people that use the systems that can teach us the most and help improve the tools we build.

So learn from your users. Talk to them, listen to them, and learn everything you can from them. Let’s keep learning and improving together.