TL;DR – I got sick of Hangouts on my Nexus 5, so I rooted my phone and uninstalled a bunch of crap that Google pre-loads.
Like a lot of other Google products, Hangouts started out as something really useful–Google Talk. I spent a lot of time in using Google Talk, chatting with friends and family. It worked with the corporate version of Google Apps for Business so I could interact easily with my coworkers at Motorola. The ability to use third-party programs and the integration with other Google apps was a great solution.
Then ‘someone’ decided Google Talk needed fixing. I don’t know who that someone is, but I’m sure they have a title that gives them the authority to mess with that which needs fixing. This Product Manager had a flash: “Hey! Google Talk let’s me interact with someone else using a keyboard. So do text messages. Let’s bring them together and make it even more awesome!”
What Hangouts does, it does pretty well. It can figure out if you’re on a phone, tablet, or computer and give you the best way of communicating with another person or group. The video chat does well what Skype does so poorly and manages to make the experience homogenous across a wide range of devices with different capabilities.
But here’s my problem.
I don’t want to chat on my phone. I will chat on my PC and even on my tablet, but I never want to chat on my phone. Often the people I chat with are in time zones where their work hours are my sleep hours (and vice versa). I don’t want to be awakened at 3 A.M. because someone in Seoul has a question for someone in Poland who is in the same Hangout. The old “Google Talk” app was an optional install, Hangouts is not. It’s burned into the ROM of my Nexus.
I try to log out of the Chat part of Hangouts. Sometimes 3-4 times a day. Because of the way that Google ties their products together, looking at an online photo in the Photos app will log you into Hangouts. Viewing a magazine in Google Play Newsstand does the same. Need to reboot? “Welcome to Hangouts!”
I send less than 10 texts a day so I don’t need a speed-texting app. What I do get about once a week is a group text with replies, so I need an app to handle threading in group SMS correctly. I also don’t care to get blasted with ads, so paying for an ad-free experience is fine.
I settled on Messaging. It’s the original Messaging app from AOSP now maintained by another open source team.
Since I’m not using Hangouts, there’s no sense in it taking nearly 50MB of real estate on my phone. But it is is built into the ROM and can’t be removed with a simple uninstall.
It’s root to the rescue!
After backing up my data, I ‘froze’ Hangouts with Titanium Backup and then proceeded to delete it from the phone. While I was at it, I removed Google Keep, Google+, Google Fit, Slides, Sheets, Email (exchange client), and News and Weather.
I feel better already.