Google's new cross-platform group messaging service is pushing out to devices

Hangouts, the long-rumored messaging service from Google that pulls together text, photo, video and group chat all into one service, is pushing out in the Play Store today as an update to the Google Talk app. The app is a serious departure from the old-school design found on talk, with an all new layout that focuses first on conversations and then on individual contacts. The main screen is a list of your different ongoing conversations -- "Hangouts" -- with pictures of the people involved in them. When you start a new hangout you can search people by name, email, circle or even phone number and start a chat.

Right now it looks like it's basically building on just the previous Talk system of chatting, and although it does ask to confirm your phone number and you can search contacts by their numbers, there's no SMS support here just yet. Go grab a download of the new Hangouts app from the Play Store link above.


Reader comments

Hangouts app now available in the Play Store, comes as update to Google Talk


No. This is hangouts.

Babel was an app that let you put all of your contacts in one place and see a unified messaging inbox.

Hangouts is an update to talk, but it makes it hard to tell who is online, and clutters your contacts with people you can't even reach through the app.

Babel was scrapped for hangouts, because Google doesn't have the talent to code as well as the Facebook messenger or imessage team, and they thought they could hide that fact with lots of emoticons that children use.

This actually worse. The 1:1 Voice Calling that I rely on in the building I train in (which gets literally no AT&T cell reception, so they have WiFi deployed all over the building) was ripped out, and the Video Calling 1:1 or otherwise is tied to Google+. No thanks. Picture Sharing is also tied to Google+. I suppose that is just way too hard for Google to implement like a normal Messaging Service, right?

The UI is better, that's about it.

And that Buddy List view is one of the most badly designed things I've ever seen.

Buddies (Friends) are hodge podged together with Groups (Circles) and there's a whole section dedicated to listing every single contact on your device with their Email Address and Phone Number in plain view in that list (WTF?). Yep, I get to send AT&T Customer Service a Hangout invite. Incredible???

Same here. Went to Play site and it says that my Nexus 7 is incompatible. WTF? Google needs to work this out fast. What's the point if it doesn't work on our Tablets as well as phones.

So no SMS support? This gets a huge pass for now then. Without SMS integration, like iMessage, this is essentially just another IM client like the many out there. When there is SMS support and this becomes the new stock messaging app, then i'll use it.

Exactly. I was hoping for SMS integration like the new Facebook Messenger app. That way everything will go through this one app.

If you look at the permissions it does look like it will have sms support. Maybe we have to wait for 4.3 to be pushed for the complete integration?

I have to say that I was as well. They sure made it seem like it was going to come out like that. I will let it go for now considering it just came out for today, but I want this feature sooner rather than later.

The SMS permission is just to send people in your contact list a text "invite" to download the app if it doesn't find a gmail linked to their name.

I hope we see an update to the Google+ app that removes Messenger and instead integrates with this.

I installed on my S3 and N4 the moment I saw it available. Looks awesome!

exactly what I came to complain about too.
OK, awesome hangout app, super slick, but FFS remove the damn Messenger from the G+ app.

oh yeah... and it does have all the SMS permissions, so the feature will roll out soon, I'm sure it will.

It has the send SMS permissions so it can send an SMS to contacts without google accounts "to invite them to Hangouts"

Not sure why it would have the recieve SMS permissions...

It needs receive SMS for the verify phone number feature. When you first sign in it validates your phone number and receives a message with that validation.

I was thinking this also, and I swear that they said something a G+ update on our phones, but I'm not able to find any evidence of that now. Are we going to get an update to the Google+ app on our phones or not? I'm hoping so, to remove the Messenger feature and integrate it with the new Hangouts...

My Play Store won't let me upgrade. When I follow the Play Store link, the only option is to open the app, but it's still the old Talk app. How can I force it to upgrade to Hangouts?

Same thing was happening to me on my Nexus 4. I was able to force it from my desktop and it worked. Thank you!

Play store from your desktop click install and pick your phone. Confirmed the issue on an htc one and an n4.

Same thing happened to me. I installed it via the Google Play web store. Simply sign in with your google account, and click install, select your device(s) and it should work.

Good luck!

When I try this, the webstore lists Hangouts as Installed, so I cannot install it, even though I only have Talk on my phone. I tried force stopping and clearing data.

Same here. Cannot download it and cannot install from the desktop, it won't let me because it says it's already installed on my devices.

credit goes to rdr321 for finding this. but SMS will be supported. Maybe we have to wait for 4.3 to be released for all the integration to be complete.

Here are the permissions
Allows the app to receive and process SMS messages. This means the app could monitor or delete messages sent to your device without showing them to you.
Allows apps to read data from the Google Talk content provider.
Allows the app to read SMS messages stored on your device or SIM card. This allows the app to read all SMS messages, regardless of content or confidentiality.
Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.

So now we have Google Talk, Hangouts, and G+ Messenger?

Is this really just a new version of Talk (i.e. does it interface with Jabber and Gmail Google talk users), or will this only talk to your G+ contacts?

Get used to it. Everything is going to eventually hook in via some way shape or form to Google+. Considering that every other platform either has tied all of their apps together (or is currently doing it) and received kudos for it...what's the big deal? ADAIC, this just streamlines everything Google as time goes on. Hopefully it'll even eventually push Facebook aside. Look for Google Play Games and Google Voice to eventually tie in to Google+ some way as well.

It seems to be able to message user on google talk or using jabber, but I can receive messages from them. Kind of ruins the app with out this...

jabber interoperability broke completely for me.
Uninstalled and went back to Talk and its all good.

So now we have Google Talk, +Messenger, Google Voice, and Hangouts. What the jelly is going on?? Wheres the 'integration' we were suppose to see?

Its not like Google doesn't already have my phone number but why the heck do they ask for it in this app?

Is it required?

I figured how to get it going. You have to be rooted! of all things. If its preinstalled on your phone, you can't replace it! I had to use titanium backup to remove it... sucks if your not rooted

Hmmmm, so ideally when this update comes thru on my HTC One, the 'Talk' and 'Messenger' icons in my app drawer should disappear.

Can someone please tell me how to update? I still see the "Talk" on my phone. whe I go to the play store it won't let me update, just open it.

I installed Hanghouts from the desktop playstore. Then I had a Talk icon and a Hangouts icon. Talk wasn't appearing in PlayStore anymore and not in my installed apps. I tried opening Talk and it opened Hanghouts. So I just removed the icon on the home screen and forgot about it.

Like others said, I'd rather wait for SMS/MMS support and then time for move phone# to GV and f the carriers! :)

SMS works on Voice now. MMS I don't think works. However, this seems like a way to leave the carriers as it is. Some people may not need a phone number anymore. If I could convert my grandparents to the internet, I could ditch it. If you can "text" me through Google+, I don't need traditional SMS.

MMS on GV does not work at all for anyone other than using a Sprint phone (still a workaround). But when MMS does work on Hangout/some other Google chat platform, then there will be ZERO need for any of the 4 carriers. CYA! LMFAO

The problem is that SMS is ubiquitous and universal. Hangouts is not. It suffers from the same problem that all instant messenger apps do: people on both ends of the conversation have to make a conscious effort to install it and use it.

I was hoping that it would at least incorporate SMS as a fall-back for communicating with people that aren't using Google's services. SMS is a long way from being retired. I'd love to use this full-time (and ditch SMS), but it will take a major shift in people's habits before this app (as it stands now) will be able to satisfy everyone's needs.

Did they just replace talk and give no way to do a voice call??? What am I missing? I cant believe it that they actually removed a feature! Is there any way to get the old google talk back?

Edit: Uninstalling the Hangouts app gets back the old talk app.

I can't figure it out either.
Gawd, this update is awful. It is disorganized, confusing, and it appears to break Jabber compatibility!

Ah, good find about the Uninstall.

Its not ready for prime time folks.
It breaks Jabber compatibility.
The interface is horribly confusing,
Making a voice only call is nowhere to be seen.
Your Contacts list doesn't show which account you are seeing (some users have multiple accounts and you can' see their actual account name to know who it is, just a name.

Give it a few months and it might be useable. Huge Kluge.

Uninstalling gets back all that Talk could do.

I am right with you. I removed this app also to go back to Talk. Hangouts is not ready for prime time yet. I need to see who is online! There has got to be a way to organize that contact list. Funny thing thought, even after it was uninstalled it still shows up as installed on my nexus 4 on the Google play store.

So what number do I enter? My Google Voice number (that my friends and family have) or my actual SIM/phone number?

It grabs your SIM number by default, but you can change it. I changed it to my Google Voice number since that's what I use/publish to friends.

How do I update? In Google Play just an option for open.. No option for update. When I open it it takes me to the old Talk app.

Did this. Nothing downloaded and now it shows up as "installed" on both my Play Store web interface and Android app. Clicking "open" takes me to Talk. Frustrating.

I'm on a stock 4.2.2 Nexus 4.

Why the frick is this showing all of my phone contacts as a swipable page to the right - I do not want this and it is dangerous!!!!

Anyone know how to remove this?

this is the same thing driving me up a wall. I now see Google contacts, Google+ contacts, Phone contacts, and Google+ circles. It's a giant mess imo.

I insert the phone number, receive a sms with a confirmation code but, where do i insert that code?
in hangouts app still says "confirming phone number"
EDIT: It confirmed by itself alone.

Got the app installed. Only problem I'm having is double notifications. I get the new Hangouts notification but I also get a google talk notification. When I click app info, it says it's the google framework app. Can I disable notifications for this?

Having difficulty installing this on my Nexus 4. Installed from the Google Play store, did not replace talk on my phone. When I check it out on the google play store on my phone, it says it is installed but when I click "open" it takes me to oldschool Talk... Anyone having similar issues?

It will not let me uninstall Talk from my app settings, nor does it show up on my Web or Android Play Store interfaces to uninstall. I do, however, see Hangouts as "installed." Opening it merely takes me to the older version of Talk.

It replaced Talk on my phone (Galaxy Nexus). Talk is no longer in the list of installed apps or the app drawer. The "Talk" app icon is still on my home screen, but if I tap it, it takes me to Hangouts (as I would expect).

Not sure what's wrong on your end.

Same here. See it as installed, but opens Talk. Tried to load it from the desktop and it won't allow it since it shows up as installed.

Not sure what's going on on Google's end.

So I actually have to have service to use this app now? I use WiFi only on my S3. Left sprint but not on good terms. This is going to stuck for me then.

interesting...i go to the play store on my N4 says the app is already installed...i didnt install it yet...was first time going to d-load it, so i hit open and it takes me to google talk.


Wait not compatible with nexus 7...really after all the talk of able to chat from anywhere I cant use my tablet lol

After seeing how unnatural it it's too use Google plus this doesn't surprise me at all. Now BlackBerry has a chance to take over the world with BBM.

You have to tap on the little 3 dot buttons in app store when it gives you the option to open. Once there you can accept the app.

Well this didn't really unify anything.

Still have a separate app for SMS/MMS. The Google+ Messenger app is still around (even after the G+ app update). It's just an improved Google Talk app.

This shouldn't have been released until it had SMS/MMS functionality.

agreed. i got it to finally install after going directly from the play store website and sending it to my phone.

at this point its just a updated google talk. i would assume more features (sms/mms, GV integration) will come...but yeah.

also why is google talk icon still around after you download hangouts? not a big deal but seems like they would have it delete/replace itself.

My Google Talk icons were replaced with the new "hangouts" icon. Still trying to figure out where Hangouts ends and Google+ Messenger begins.

Only small problem is that once it is uninstalled the Play Store still shows it as an Installed app.

I cant install it on my HTC One S , it says its installed because I have Talk, but the only option in play store is open, can't uninstall and reinstall because I don't have the option to uninstall...any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, I just tried that and I'm getting the same thing it says its already installed.....stupid bloatware apps that you cant uninstall, that's the one thing I cant stand with these phones, getting a nexus next time whether its a POS or not....

Looks the exact same on my Nexus 7 as my GS4 and EVO 4G. Got it to the N7 by backing up the .apk from the GS4, uploading to Dropbox, then sideloading to the N7.

@Andrew Martonik

Thanks for the post.

in Samsung Skyrocket (OS:Jelly Bean 4.1.2) it's showing "talk" only but in play store it's showing its already installed but from there if hangout opened then it's showing "talk". hope after pushing the hangout properly the sign n symbol will be changed properly.

Thanks in Advance

According to the Google Play store, I have this installed on my phone even though I don't see it in my app drawer.