Google Hangouts was launched in 2013 to bring together several similar but technologically distinct messaging and communication platforms. While the service has faced some criticism (especially concerning privacy issues), it features useful capabilities. Hangouts can be used for video or chat conversations between up to ten people at a time, which is a significant improvement over other free video and chat services. In addition, the platform can be used across devices, so whatever chat conversations users perform on their computers will transfer to their other devices, and vice versa. Users must subscribe to a free Google account to use Hangouts, or download a free app to use on Android or iOS devices.