Google Hangouts gets a minor update with more emoji and butter

Google Hangouts has received a relatively minor update today, bringing the app to version 1.1. Normally, we don't cover every little app update, but this time around the team have added a little bit of project butter to make the app smoother, and folks with older phones are going to be happy with that news. The full change log:

  • Added more emoji!
  • We added some butter to Hangouts to make it run faster and slicker.
  • Fixed a bunch of bugs.

We still all hope that Google can incorporate Google Voice or SMS messages into Hangouts, but no dice just yet. The last couple updates have had some interesting permissions, though. Hit the break to see what I mean, and grab the update from the Google Play link up top.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • After this update, I got my first force close of hangouts. hope that was just a one time fluke
  • memory leak has gotten worse
  • Still can't see if your contacts are online and/or available. Have to use the desktop all the time now.
  • If their contact photo is dimmed that means they are not currently using the app, if the photo is full brightness it means they are looking.
  • Yeah, I think Google better re-examine this way of doing things. It seems understands this dimmed photo is offline and bright photo is online. They just keep complaining. What kills me is that whether you know if that person is online or not, it doesn't guarantee you're getting a quick response. This sure seems like major amount of griping over a minor thing. Leave your message. When the other person sees it they'll respond.
  • One may not want to start a conversation if the other person is not available. Anyway, there's a LOT of people complaining about this, so, looks like it is something Google should pay attention to. Besides, it is easy to provide this option.
  • And of course, more important than seeing who's online is the ability to SORT the list accordingly.
  • The dimming is not reliable. It just isn't. It can't be relied upon to be correct. Further, what happened to the Voice Only calls? I used to spend hours on that feature alone, to contacts overseas. Now Google insists every call be Text or Video, no other options. This is why Google Talk is still on my phone, and Hangouts is banished.
  • You can do voice only. Hit the 'vid chat' icon, then as soon as it transitions to the screen where it starts calling the other person, you can hit the video icon to toggle vid chat off, so it's voice only. I agree that they should add a 'mic' icon so that it's obvious/easier to do straight voice chat.
  • Except that when you look at your Recent Chats lists on your phone, not a single damn contact is greyed out. So you either have to open the chat, or go to the full list of friends to see if they're online. If they're going to implement the "greyed out" icon for status, they need to be consistent.
  • I don't think dimmed contacts have anything to do with online/offline status. What I have noticed is that a dimmed contact is someone from whom you need to request permission for hangout (such as those in your Following circle), while non-dimmed contacts are those you are allowed to hangout right away because either of you have already accepted a hangout request or because they have you in a circle that allows for hangout without a request (Friends or Family circles).
  • What about being able to sort contact list by online status, like GTalk?
  • I really hope Google does not get rid of Voice. It's incredibly useful as an alternate voicemail for the phone
  • Agreed. It also allows me to send and receive text messages over wifi when I'm at home where my cell reception is hit or miss and the stock messaging app just doesn't cut it. Of course, if they worked that part into hangouts it would still solve that problem for me, but I like the voicemail too.
  • Unfortunately I believe Google Voice is going away. Google has been very quiet about it and hasn't updated it in a long time. They have no revenue stream from it. We had all better start looking for an alternative to Google Voice. My bet is it does not survive the next spring cleaning.
  • I agree that this is likely, but I am holding out hope that SMS, call history and voicemail will be rolled into Hanougts... maybe mobile VOIP too?
  • Can't wait for SMS support. I love the design of the app. Posted via Android Central App
  • +10 to this. I completely agree. cannot wait.
  • I reckon it will be one of the bigger features at their next big event Posted via Android Central App
  • The app is such garbage. For those of us who use gchat, it's complete crap and totally useless. Still looking for an alternative.
  • I could not disagree more. It's extremely useful for me. I'm pretty sure I send more messages through Hangouts than I do with any other app/website.
  • Me too. I open the app to start a conversation with someone who doesn't use it and I get sad. Posted via Android Central App
  • I agree.... Posted via Android Central App
  • Completely agree. Pure garbage. Google makes incredibly odd product calls lately.
  • Now if they would just make it remotely useful, or at least bring back some of the functionality they axed from GTalk. Oh but emojis!!! /s Posted via Android Central App
  • Exactly.
    Wasting their time adding stupid emojis while dropping voice only calls, and forcing everything to Video calls.
  • You're not forced to just video calls. You can toggle video off and make it just a voice call. They didn't really remove any features, they aggregated some and enhanced others so much they've almost become a new feature.
  • They need to fire the whole hangout team!!! Emojis are more important than functionality? Still takes forever for msgs to sync and update. Still, can't view who's online. Another sad update. Posted via Android Central App
  • My notifications were unreliable at best now...totally broken. Posted via Android Central App
  • And still no facepalm emoji! Facepalm! Posted via Android Central App
  • Wow. I have about 40 chats open and running, and have no issues using the app at all. Much more stable and reliable for me than Google Talk was, because I hit the hidden limit of concurrent devices connected all the time.
  • I for one one have greatly enjoyed the Hangouts app. I used gtalk, but Hangouts have brought more of my friends on board. Posted via Android Central App
  • @Jerry Hildenbrand sms permissions were always there, when you go to settings and hit confirm phone number it sends a test text message and confirms you received the test text message plain and simple
  • They show as new for me.  
  • Dear Google: You're done a lot of great work with this app, such as its ability to be used on any platform. But, as you can see from this thread, there's a lot of work that still needs to be done. Such divisive comments can only mean that. Also, you should really hurry if you want to beat the alternatives such as Facebook Messenger. And my iPhone friends won't even touch this app because it is basically broken. I can't even get new messages to populate on threads after a notification on my iPad. Same for iPhone. Thanks,
    A Fan
  • Yea too bad I've been unable to update any apps today. Keep getting an error msg. Posted via Android Central App
  • Have you cleared data on Google Services Framework recently? Try deleting your Google account and adding it back.
  • They need to fix the calling feature! None of my contacts get the calling or ringing on their phone to let them know someone wants to video chat with them.
  • Some people just can't seem to get over the fact that Hangouts represents a new way of doing messaging. That's why it isn't an "instant messaging" app. Online/offline status is gone (save for the dimmed picture) because it isn't relavant anymore. Almost everyone has at least 2 devices now; computer and phone. Some will have a tablet, others will have a second computer, etc. The idea of online/offline is going away because my computer at home is always on, chrome is always running, so I'm always technically "online" on hangouts on it, but for the minimum 8 hours of the day that I'm at work and not on that machine, I'm not going to be answering messages on that device. But during that day I may or may not be answering hangout messages on my phone, which is another always on device that always has hangouts on it. The idea of the "instant" message is gone. Long live instantly delivering the message to every device someone else has, and letting them choose whether or not to answer you. A technical limitation has been removed and it is more of a social communication thing. Sorry for being a bit ranty/ramble-y, but I'm just tired of the constant complaints for what is an app that is greatly improved over the previous solution, but admittedly does need work. I just want Google to work on the right things, not going back to the middle of the last decade thinking.
  • Virtually everything you said is nonsense. We still need notifications that work.
    We don't care if you leave your computer on all the time, some of us know better.
    We still need to know if someone is on line, and what capabilities their device has.
    We still need voice only chats, for example when driving, or where ever there isn't enough bandwidth to handle video.
    Instant messages are not GONE, they are more prevalent than ever, nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore, when a simple text will do, and nobody wants video chats except love struck teenagers. Sorry for being ranty, but I'm just tired of people making excuses for developers who dumb down products that provide fewer and fewer services, while throwing perfectly good systems under the bus.
  • I agree. I never really saw a point to the online status. Whether they're on or offline, they're going to reply if and when they want to anyway. I do wish they'd bring back the free calling feature and give us the ability to send any file, or at least just videos, but the online status doesn't make much sense anymore.
  • Until it has SMS integration this is all nonsense. Posted via Android Central App
  • I do agree that offline status shouldn't exist any more. But there are more than a few indications that this isn't the best execution. First, not everyone has converted to Hangouts. You have the elite few (or even "many") who didn't sign into Talk on their phones, god no they're not going to sign into Hangouts. It's not rolled out for Google Apps users. But when I try to message them from my phone, I can no longer see if they're online or not. Sure, I can send them an offline IM (which is what I would prefer anyways) -- but Google just took away the ability for me to know if they would see the message quickly, or if I should decide to reach them via a different route. You can see online status on desktop, but you can't see it on mobile. Why not? The same ideas above apply to both Google Apps and Google contacts. Last (though there's probably more), is the status reported for the resource. When my phone screen is on, it no longer switches to "Available". This was useful to me to signify that I was active when I was, well, active. (especially if I was actively sending messages over Hangouts.) EVEN WORSE, the resource continues to stay "Away" even if the device turns off, or I wipe to a different ROM, etc. You can have a bunch of hanging "Away" resources signed-in/hanging-around, if you like to wipe your phone without signing out of Hangouts first.
  • More smiling faces are you serious? With Google backing the developers this messenger should be the best.... However it's the worst one. what's app and group me are far better Posted via Android Central App
  • I hate that you have to pay for whatsapp. I like Google hangouts better. Posted via Android Central App
  • Services tied down to a phone number and a single device... are completely different.
  • It seems so easy to make this app useful but adding the features people have been clamoring for: 1. SMS integration 2. GV integration 3. Restore the more intuitive status notification in Google talk. 4. Bring back the special effects in Google talk 5. Allow sending of different files, apk, pdf, etc and also allow sending files copied to the clipboard instead of always having to take a new pic or video or always having to go to the hallery Could this really be that hard. Maybe they need to reassign those working on hangouts to the unemployment line. I think their time would be better spent in that way.
  • I agree on almost all points. I think they are completely revamping GV and that's why it's taking this long. It's a pretty old app and the SMS part of it is really flaky. I mean, a lot of times it takes a while for the message to go through (I thought it was my old phone but same on GS4). SMS should be an easy integration, not sure what is taking this long. Maybe they are coming up with some crazy idea on how to combine GV SMS and regular SMS.
  • I suspect they are End-Of-Life-ing Google Voice. I'd bet money on it.
  • No freaking way. It's one of the best services Google offers after Gmail and many people/businesses depend on it. They will certainly integrated it into Hangouts.
    I know I know they killed Reader but reader is not as big of a deal as voice mail, phone number, etc
  • Agree! Posted via Android Central App
  • Hear, hear. They need to majorly overhaul their focus.
  • @Jerry Hildenbrand sms permissions were always there, when you go to settings and hit confirm phone number it sends a test text message and confirms you received the test text message plain and simple
  • answered above. they show as new permissions.   I installed the Hangouts app on my Wifi only Nexus 7 that can't send or receive SMS messages. So did a few million other people.
  • never use it, never will... too bad I can't delete it
  • Let see:
    1. Still no pinch to zoom on photos.
    2. Photo quality still sucks.
    3. Still no animated gifs.
    4. Still no consistent way to see who's online or who has the app installed.
    5. Still no way to do audio only conference.
    6. Still no way to do x-chat MMS. But hey, EMOJI!! Good to see Google has their priorities straight. My guess is we won't see another update for couple months and they'll add a couple more emoji with some more minor under the cover bug fixes that are apparently so small people don't even know what they are. Such rapid development from this awesome crack team over at Google here. :-(
  • I really want gift support. That would be awesome. Posted via Android Central App
  • *gif Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes this sadly is the STUPID update from Google. At this point I would say we won't see this get better until KLP is out in a few weeks. Once the N5 is shown that's when you will see the new functionality. Until then we get this POS (and that's not point of sale). Posted via Android Central App
  • SMS support? The most requested feature? Of course not.... Posted via Android Central App
  • Where's the emoji support for GV? That would make my day...and does Hangouts have the lowers Play review score of all Google apps? It's a weird one for sure.
  • hangouts is garbage. can't believe how boneheaded google is on this.
  • Its working way faster & smoother on my phone now. Was always working great on my Tablet. Tim
    Posted via the totally awesome Android Central App from my Droid 4
  • Why doesn't Google put butter on all its apps?
  • Still not good. Worst update ever. The only thing Google has left to mess up is gmail. My first Google service since beta. If that happens it over for me. Posted via Android Central App