New version lets you use Google's IM app to send and receive texts
As promised at last week's Google+ event, the new version of Hangouts capable of sending and receiving text messages is now rolling out through Google Play. The update to brings things up to speed with the version of Hangouts on the Nexus 5, which is the default SMS app on that device. When you first load up the updated Hangouts you'll be presented with a fullscreen message asking if you want to enable SMS support — tap yes and your messages are imported into the app, and you'll receive future SMS notifications through Hangouts instead of your preloaded SMS app. Tap "Maybe later" and things will stay as they are.
For the most part, the texting experience through Hangouts 2.0 on any other device is the same as it is on the Nexus 5 — SMS conversations are shown in a list alongside your other, and you can choose whether you want to communicate over Hangouts or SMS when starting a new conversation. Want out? At any point you can go to Settings > SMS > Turn on SMS to enable or disable SMS in Hangouts.
The update also adds animated GIF support and a new location-sharing button, which you can tap to tell contacts where you are.
As usual the update is being rolled out gradually across the Android user base, so don't be surprised if you don't see it immediately. If you're updating today, be sure to hit the comments and let us know whether you're opting into SMS in Hangouts or not.