Until now, both participants in a Hangouts call connected to a Google server, which acted as a middleman.
We often hear P2P with mentions about torrents and pirate sites, but in this case, P2P will allow some Hangouts connections to bypass Google’s servers, allowing users to enjoy reliable calls and messaging.
This move by the search giant will hopefully turn out to be useful for all those who most of the times choose Skype over Hangouts in frustration. With the knowledge of your IP address, your approximate location could be determined. The exact criteria for this isn’t listed, but it’s safe to say that this will at least work between two people using the latest Android software. That means this upgrade might not mean much to you unless you contacts also update their versions of Hangouts, but if both of you do, that should also result in clearer face-to-face or VoIP chats. While messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber are more popular than Hangouts in some demographics and areas, Mountain View is making notable efforts to improve its service.
The addition was first noted in the Android app by Reddit user kxra, and it’s likely the app is using the Google-developed WebRTC API, which supports p2p data transfer.
Android Police explained that the feature reduces the number of hoops a user’s call needs to jump through, ideally improving video and audio quality. However, the person they are calling will also need to have the latest version of Mountain View’s messaging platform. No reports have surfaced so far regarding P2P connections on iOS though. Some, however, may be concerned that their IP address will be exposed.