Google Hangouts for Android

There's a new version of Google Hangouts on the way, and it's going to bring some substantial improvements. Version 2.1 of Hangouts for Android's biggest change is going to be in the way that it handles conversations with the same person over multiple channels. Currently if, say, I'm conversing with Phil over SMS through Hangouts, it'll be a separate conversation than our instant message-style Hangouts chat. With Hangouts 2.1, those two conversations will be merged into one continuous discussion.

When talking to a friend with a merged contact you'll have the option of switching between Hangouts chat or SMS, and the message source will be visually distinct. You'll also have the option of de-merging a conversation, should the unified flow not suit your needs.

As a side note, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much the merging of conversation streams like this is reminiscent of webOS Synergy.

While the merged conversations are the highlight of the Hangouts 2.1 update, there will be more to behold in addition. For instance, the contacts lists has been simplified to two sections: People you Hangout With and Phone Contacts. Quality of video calls has been improved, as has SMS and MMS reliability. And, lastly, there will be a homescreen widget so you can access your conversations even faster.

The update will be available in the Google Play Store this week — once you've got it, let us know what you think. Or you can sound off now on the potential (good or bad) for these to-be-merged conversations.

Source: +MikeDodd, Via: +Google


Reader comments

Hangouts 2.1 merging conversations, brings a widget to the party


Google Voice integration?

Posted via SPARK enabled Sprint LG G2 that still spins fast after using 60GB in a billing cycle. {No Overages}

Hopefully this merge is a sign of them warming up to merge Google Voice. I can't believe it has taken this long...

This is just a guess here, but I think if it was coming with Voice Integration, that would be the headline instead of merging convos.

Sweet! I wonder what took so long for the merging feature. I'm not really into messaging widgets so that doesn't do much for me.

Completely agree. I have been looking for a better experience. Hangouts seemed like it's could be it. But I really want an iMessage type experience if I use Hangouts.

This may be the move I'm looking for!

Posted via Android Central App

its still not to the iMessage level (from what i know about iMessage anyway) but its close and is ABSOLUTELY a huge step in the right direction.

The reason why hangouts is not up to IMessage or bbm standards is because Google uses GMail instead of a unique identifier to ID that an android phone is in use.

Not what I was looking for but an update is an update. Now get GV properly integrated then we can talk. Still too little too late.

Merged conversations should have been in day 1. Glad it's here now. Now they need to be intelligent like iMessage and use sms if offline or contact offline

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I would hate that. I rarely send SMS and wouldnt want it to auto send an SMS. It should be an option or remain as it is. If I need to get in touch with someone right away, ill SMS them

I agree, the toggle is sitting right there in a nice convenient spot for us to switch at all. No real need for auto switching.

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I would hate that for the opposite reason. I only use Hangouts for group chat, if my friend is overseas or if my phone lost cell signal. Other than that, I use SMS almost exclusively... Love the fact that it's finally merged though...

Well, for me that isn't the reason. Unlimited SMS comes standard in Canada, guarantees that everyone will be able to use it and uses much less battery (because you don't need to enable data connection, works with mobile data is off). I use Hangouts for group chat and picture messaging though...

My sister said iMessage changed on the new iOS, where it always sends an instant message to an iPhone even if the iPhone receiver is off line, causing her to miss notifications until she turned on Internet. The server used to determine if iPhones were online or not but now it doesn't. It just sends sms to other phones, and iMessage to iPhone if iMessage is turned on.

Glad to see the merge options, AND the attention to better reliability... Hope that part proves true.
Posted via Android Central App

Edit: So far it's much better! Thanks for the heads up!

Just got the update, and sent a tip right as you guys posted about it. Oops.

I like it a lot.

It also features an updated "ping" sound found in the iOS version of the app.

Posted via Android Central App

as soon as i saw he said he had an update, went in and it was there for me too. So far so good. I think its a HUGE step in the right direction. I just wish google would handle it more like imessage on a iphone... if you are talking to someone and they are a hangouts user, it should just auto go to hangouts, and the same for the opisite, but whatever.... they are merged and this is a HUGE improvement.

Agreed completely. I think it's possible that Hangouts will be for Google what iMessage is for Apple. It'll just take a little bit of time I'm sure.

I have the new update. Got it from Android police. Now my messages are highlighted in green

Posted via Android Central App

Sent Hangout messages are in green. SMS are in white (with "via SMS" in the time stamp). All incoming are white.

FINALLY! Man that was the most irritating thing about Hangouts.... though I loved it all the same :) Thanks based Google.

About time they merged the two! Already downloaded and running it. So much better.

Posted via Android Central App

I prefer the seperation. just wish on the thread list it was one name (rather than the current two) and when you go into the contact thread you use the drop down up top to select sms or hangout

Hangouts still sucks. Where's my Google Voice integration. Or at least seamlessly integrating with your current phone SMS like iMessage does.

Posted via Android Central App

Does Hangouts show delivery confirmation yet? That was my issue with using Hangouts over the default Messages app.

When did it not?

Solid icon = online
Grayed out icon = offline
No icon = hasn't read the message yet
Icon with triple dots = responding

I'm talking about SMS delivery receipts. Yes, it's checked in the settings but I still don't see them and have to head over to Messages to see them.

Posted via Android Central App

I have everything you do except the check mark. And I have delivery reports checked (been checked since it was called Hangouts).

Posted via Android Central App

Could be carrier issue at that point? All my friends (they're pretty much on all the major Canadian carriers and me on the regional carrier) have working delivery confirmations so I'm not sure why you have the problem...

Do note that technically SMS delivery confirmation is not part of the SMS standard iirc so maybe your carrier doesn't support it?

I have Big Red as mycarrier and can see delivery confirmations in Messages. Just not in Hangouts.

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It can only merge conversations if you have the phone number and gmail account in the same contact. Even if you have the persons phone number and Google + account it won't merge it without a gmail address.

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I was using it for a while, but I switched to Textra. Hangouts badly needed an update. It's getting there'll be a top notch SMS client very soon

By the time they become top notch it's too late. There are too many good apps.

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Idk. I still haven't found the perfect SMS app yet that fits my needs. I can really say hangouts is the closest one. I need a Hangouts-Textra mix

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I would use Hangouts if they would do two things:

1) Leave the contacts in the conversation list even after you have deleted the messages, so you don't have to reenter the information every time; like iMessage and Textra.

2) Allow you to attach things after you compose the message; like iMessage or use a scroll wheel like Evolve SMS. How hard can that be?

I 100% agree with pointo 2) This is the reason why I'm sticking with the old SMS app. I hoped it would be fixed in the new update: seems like it's not..

A very welcome feature to say the least. I would really appreciate a dark theme though. I prefer my apps to dark. Especially in low light.

Posted from my LG G2 via Android Central App

Did they fix the issue where you can attach something after you start writing a message? When I use it on my Galaxy S4 I have to attach and then compose my message.

Google why you no store my messages in the cloud? Id love to be able to sign into a new device, or a tablet and have all my messages there. I dont even care if you make me cover the storage as part of my drive balance, etc. It just bugs me. Once they do that, all other options are off the table.

Hangouts are stored on the cloud unless you delete the conversation. I have hangouts running on two separate devices.

Posted via Android Central App

Oh yeah man if only we were there, hopefully we will be soon though. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

Posted via Android Central App

If they are merging the two into the same thread it stands to reason that if they aren't merged in the cloud now they will be soon.

Posted via Android Central App

Keeps me using hover chat. This feature and quick reply would make hangouts my default easily!

Posted via my hTc one with a cracked screen!

Also if you choose to merge the convos, it will only default to their G+ picture. No way that I can find to override it back to the picture I have saved for them, or from Haxsync, etc.

I've heard no. Without the SMS component, hangouts will only send hangouts.
I would find another SMS app, like text plus.

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Go to the contacts and change the picture associated with the contact with edit worked for me

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No active Sim, no text. You can use Hangouts to IM over the internet on Wi-Fi. If the other person is on Hangouts.

Enlighten me please! During intelligent conversation it is generally accepted that when you disagree with someone, you point out their error. By all means, the floor is yours.

About time. I 'm sick of thinking I texted someone but I messaged them on hangouts and they never got the message b/c they don't use hangouts.

I used hangouts as my default sms service briefly about a month ago but found that in a group conversation it doesn't show who each message is from. Has this been resolved?

Posted via Android Central App

Wasn't even aware that this was a problem... Been using Hangouts for my group chat for ages on my phone...

A few questions that I haven't figured out yet with this update.

1. Are SMS messages now archived with the hangout messages in gmail?
2. Is the system smart enough to detect if the user is active on hangouts and automatically send a hangout in place of an SMS?

I wish they'd polish the UI, it currently doesn't work too well as a reliable SMS app. Right now, all that the app is is an IM app with a complimentary SMS feature.

Posted via Android Central App

That was kinda the intention. Google wants people to use Hangouts over SMS. SMS is only there as a "backwards compatibility" thing...

Looking forward to checking out this update. I use hangouts all the time both for all my SMS and then chat or video chat with family member. Have a lot of problems with lag on video. Don't know if that is related to the devices and/or network or to the application and it's back end. Had thought about switching for SMS but the Google Voice integration was supposed to be coming this spring so I was sticking it out.

When I get more than one image in an SMS, Hangouts will not open the image. It opens a previously sent image. Anybody else have this issue?

Posted via Android Central App

Yep. I won't even consider using it until it has pop up notifications. Unlocking the phone and loading an app just to reply to a text is so clunky.

Google Voice integration would be great too.

For now, I'm happy with Chomp SMS.

Posted with Nexus 5 via Android Central App

I still think I message makes the merged text/IM experience much easier. iPhone users have this feature from the get go but even with the large amount of my peers who also have android phones as I do, very few of them use hangouts so I have 3 messaging apps.

Posted via Android Central App

Agreed! Google needs to push Hangouts on Android a lot harder if they're serious about it. I've only managed to get one friend to use it, and I think they're only using it out of politeness. Everyone uses FB Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage.

Posted via Android Central App

It's getting there. I have converted several friends over to Hangouts.
1. Its availability and near feature parity on iOS is a big seller. My friends are 50/50 Android/iOS, and while not everybody can use iMessage, we can all use Hangouts. Group chats on Hangouts are far superior to others out there, IMO, and I don't care to use WhatsApp or Facebook. Most people have a Gmail account anyway, so it makes the transition to Hangouts very easy.
2. Video Hangouts with multiple people is awesome. Don't try to do that with Skype unless you feel like busting out your credit card.

Can hangouts send an SMS to someone when the sender is on Wi-Fi, like go SMS? Or must it be through hangouts?

Posted via Android Central App

Will hangouts work with the galaxy gear?
It seems that if someone sends me a text on my note 3 with "LINE" APP for GEAR installed on the Note3/Gear, it doesn't work. It refers back to the built-in sms on the Note but nothing on the Gear....bummer

Would love to use hangouts as my only messaging app but can't get my friends and family to move from whatsapp

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

For some people WhatsApp is free. Just tell them that it's a great IM and Skype-alternative rolled in one. It also works on the computer, tablet and pretty much any device running Windows, Mac, Linux, Android or iOS.

All of these features sound great... However, the two biggest features that are missing when compared to some of the skins/3rd party apps are the ability to search msgs (ironic considering this is a Google app) and the ease of saving a number into your phonebook from a Hangouts SMS.

I like the app and use it everyday... however in my use, it's better for IM than SMS b/c of those two missing features.

My query is:

Does the sms side if the conversation show on other devices (tablets, laptop) that you are signed in to? If mighty text can do it, why can't Google? And they should be able to do it, much better!!

Posted via Android Central App

Bummer, the update notification I got was for Hangouts 2.03, not 2.1. I like that my portion of the conversation/messages are highlighted in green now, though.

Posted via AC App on HTC One

You may already have 2.1. The green means that the message was sent through hangouts. SMS shows as white. My play store said 2.03 too but when I checked my app it said 2.1. Check it out in the help & feedback part of the menu.

What about repeat notifications for sms/mms? That's the only reason I don't use Hangouts sms because I can't set it to repeat every few minutes when I didn't hear it the first time.

Posted via Android Central App

I think Google voice integration is included! I am able to send a pic from hangouts on my WiFi tablet only to a phone number. Anyone else try it?

Posted via Android Central App

Still wish they added a message cap/auto-delete oldest messages option like most other sms apps. I hate seeing that my family and gf's conversation is 1000s of texts long. Sure I could go and delete the lists myself and be done with it, but in the end that's a step backwards in my opinion because even the OG Droid would automatically delete the oldest messages for you as it filled up.

Get on that, Goog!

Too bad I can't get any android friends to use hangouts so none of this makes a difference to me

Posted via Android Central App

The inability to get Android users to use Androids own messaging app is quite damning. I hope this changes as OS updates roll out to older devices.

Posted via Android Central App

Been waiting on the merged Hangouts + SMS conversations since Hangouts was first released as the stock messaging app. I'm one of the few who use Hangouts as the default everyday and enjoy it, so I can't wait for this. :)

The integration is pretty terrible. It seems that it only works if the user has a g+ profile associated with the contact

I can't add a contact on my phone with a number and the hangouts email address, hangouts sees them as two different contacts still..

I thought the same thing but I long pressed the two conversations that should be merged and it gave me the option to merge them at the top. I merged the text conversation and a college email address (which doesn't allow for G+).

Thanks! I was trying to tackle it from the contact side of thing thinking that was the logical place, didn't realise you could merge them within hangouts

webOS messaging application was still superior. Not functionality wise, because it didn't have file transfer/location sharing etc (different times). but user experience was better. It didn't show me weird realtions of people I never talked to (circles/communities) just my messenger contacts and conversations, I could see who is online/busy dnd/ not available.

PS: I really miss the plug-ins for ICQ WLM etc.

I find it a bit creepy that it's giving me the opportunity to message people I don't even know.
Also I get huge delays in the instant messaging part of Hangouts. I can get a message and even if I look at it instantly it more often than not will say '20 mins ago'.

Posted via Android Central App

I was pretty much shocked to see like over hundred people I don't even know. All aggregated from circles and communities I have on my g+ account. I use it as a news aggregator for different fields of interest. Just because I share a common interest with those people, doesn't mean I should be able to contact them.

Android Police has the APK for 2.1. I downloaded and installed it. The update is fairly nice. However, the reason I was looking for the update is the fact that MMS was still very spotty with Hangouts. So far it appears that MMS issues have been fixed for me. It used to fail to send MMS messages or take 20 minutes to send a single MMS, whether it was a picture or something to multiple recipients. This update may have actually resolved quite a few issues.

Hopefully I do not find any issues in the coming days.

I still hate the 'Hangouts' name. Can't use it as a verb, I guess it's kosher just to keep calling it Gchat.

Google doesn't do anything quickly. They have the highest paid slow workers on the planet.

Yes, but Google hasn't updated the What's New section of the listing. Scroll to the bottom of the Description section and you'll see that it's version 2.1.

The only think I want, is the ability to link my SMS to Chrome so that I can send and receive text messages through my PC and tablet.

I want this functionality too. If I'm already on my Chromebook or on my Nexus 7 then it would just make sense to continue using it instead of having to pick my phone up. After reading what I've put before this I realized it's a total "First world problems" kind of issue but I still want it nonetheless lol

I still don't like it doesn't have the ability to assign custom ringtones to individuals. Until that feature is added, I'll just use Handcent.

+1 for WebOS shout out. That OS was so ahead of its time on so many fronts.

Posted via Android Central App

So true. The hardware too. Miss the Touchdock (or whatever it was called). That phone was the last time I used a physical keyboard on a phone.

All it needs now is for it to automatically add contacts via their phone number instead of Gmail. I get it's a Gmail based app and everything but they ask you to verify your phone number anyways. I feel like more people would use it. It's got to be one of my favorite apps for group messaging. I love being able to see where each individual person has read to. People at school always try to suggest group me or whatsapp for group projects and I always have to educate them on the ways of hangout. Once they start using it though they love it as their like oh cool I can send messages from my laptop too and we can video message.

Once it adds messages based on phone number and not just email addresses I think it'll definitely be a certified iMessage killer. I already think it's much better than iMessage but that would be the nail in the coffin.