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Hangouts adds proper status indicators, improved contacts management

Making it easier to find the people you want to converse with most

Along with notable updates to Gmail and Google Voice, Hangouts is receiving a bump to version 1.2 to add new features. The latest update makes it drastically easier to see who is online and available for chat and who is not, with green chat bubbles indicating online and grey ones indicating offline. When you're browsing through your contacts list you'll also now see new organization to put "People you Hangout with" at the top, "Suggested People" underneath and "Other Contacts" at the bottom.

You can also long press on contacts in Hangouts to hide them from ever appearing if you'd prefer to clean up the list. Now when you receive an invite to a Hangout, you'll see that invite above all of your conversations, which keeps it from getting buried underneath other active conversations. And last but not least, you can pinch and zoom pictures that you receive.

The update is rolling out over the next couple of days, so go take a look in the Play Store and see if you're one of the initial batch.

Via: +Randall Sarafa

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • thumbs up! nice update.
  • Giddy up! Now to integrate with SMS and all will be well with the world.
  • Agreed - Hangouts+Voice+MMS FTW!!!
  • I'm amazed how long it took this to appear.
    We all think Google programmers are Gods, but Gawd are they slow. That said, This is a nice incremental update. Google Search (AKA Google NOW) updated today. Some nice functionality added.
  • ..because Beta. Posted via Android Central App
  • Agreed can't wait for the major integration Posted via Android Central App
  • I do miss "status messages" from the old GTalk. Hope that finds it way back.
  • And an "at a glance" list of who's online without having to scroll through the entire contacts list.
    Without being able to easily tell who's available, it's not an instant messaging platform, it's an asynchronous messaging platform. I don't want another asynchronous messaging platform.
    I already have one of those called GMAIL. This is why I'm still using "old chat" in the browser.
  • I'd be excited about this if I ever *used* Hangouts. While this update is absolutely a step in the right direction, adding some features people have been clamoring for (here's looking at you, status indicators), I don't know anyone who uses hangouts, and therefore I never have any use for it either. Perhaps when (if? though I'd imagine it's heading this way in the near future) SMS/MMS is integrated, I may use it as my all-in-one app, but even still I'm skeptical. Either way, good on Google for taking a new update in the right direction!
  • Thanks. You saved me a lot of typing.
  • Total agreement. Google should have had a complete, fully realized app with SMS integration and a way better name (Hangouts, really?) when they first released it. Messaging is highly competitive, and the beta now, update later mentality doesn't work here. Also, can the iOS version get some love? It's buggy as hell.
  • Funny, who uses sms or even mms? Sms ok, a few are still using that, maybe I send 1 or 2 per month. Mms I never used, so integrating that into hangouts is for me a waste of time. I don't get how you can say that nobody uses it, I have quite a huge contact list but I already had that before hangouts, because I used talk already for years. And also aren't by default all android users talk/hangout users by default? The problem is more I guess that Google didn't follow WhatsApp, by automatically syncing all hangout accounts by phone number. Do if you where in my address book we also have each other's hangout account right away Posted via Android Central App
  • The problem is that in the US most people use SMS as it is default with every carrier and embedded into contracts, etc. that I don't see it going away here in the states anytime soon. Which stinks. I hate sms. It is the biggest waste of money when we have messaging apps that can do it so much better. I know in other countries Whatsapp and Viber, etc. are used moreso which is awesome. But I am not aware of how SMS worked there beforehand.
  • Exactly. Not sure where you are from Johan, but here in the States, most family plans now include unlimited messaging, such as Verizon's "Share Everything" plan and AT&T's "Mobile Share" plans, which is the plan I am on. Since SMS/MMS is built into literally EVERY phone made in the past 10 years, it is still the standard for many people, including myself. There are no separate apps to install or sign up for, or separate contact lists. Generally speaking, if someone has a cell phone, they can text message. Now, I"m not staying that *no one* uses Hangout, just that no one that I communicate with does. Having Android does not mean that everyone has or uses it by default. It still is a separate app that has to be launched and constantly signed in to receive messages. Perhaps if Google followed WhatsApp and integrated it better with the phone's contact list it would have more adoption, but as it stands there are ZERO people in my contact list that use Hangouts, and only 5 that have Google+ accounts (only one of those actively posts), though many of them have Android devices. ALL of the people I communicate with, do however, use SMS/MMS. It will be interesting to see what direction Google takes Hangouts in the future...
  • Thank goodness. Sounds like this will go a long way to smoothing out some of the rough edges that Google Talk had already overcome.
  • Delivery and read receipts would make this my go to app for messaging. Come on Google, you Can DO IT! Posted From my Motorola side view pager via 4-5683-8
  • Actually they already have delivery and read receipts. Once the time of your message pops up means it's been delivered. And once the person's picture slides underneath the message (I once wondered why the persons picture was always there) that means they read the message.
  • This. It's been there since day one, and works well in single chat as well as large groups.
  • Read receipts really do exist, at least by my understanding. The person you're talking to's face stays at the most recent message they've read. Once they read your most recent message, it moves to the bottom of the screen.
  • Please integrate Google Hangouts with SMS Integration.. Christmas early please? (that and KitKat too pls :) )
  • FINALLY! The thing that irritated most about the hangout apps was the inability to tell if Status was Active /Away/or Busy compared to the old gchat app. Knowing that saved me time from msging someone unknowingly with an away status and not knowing if they were just ignoring me or actually away from their computer / device. Posted via Android Central App
  • Pinch to zoom! Welcome to 2007 Google! Seriously though, that's the biggest feature for me.
  • Well, I don't have any online status yet!! Hopefully I'll get an update for the app in the next couple of days... If not then I'm deffo uninstalling and going back to Gtalk app!! Posted via your phone
  • No sms Posted via Android Central App
  • I've still never used this app as most of my friends have iPhones or use the horrible Whatsapp. How does the app work out what a person's status is any way? Posted via Android Central App
  • I use it all day with my Iphone friends, works flawlessly, the persons pic is dimmed out if they are not in the app, and fully lit up if they are in app looking at chat
  • Nice update! Now if they can only add the function to REMOVE a person from a Hangout. This would come in handy when you have a constant running chat with multiple contacts. Currently the person either has to leave the chat on their own or you start a new Hangout and not include the individual which you want to remove.
  • I second that Posted via Android Central App
  • I'll reserve final judgement until I actually get to use the update but it appears not much has really been done to address the status indicator issue. Along with knowing who is online (which, I'm assuming Google is still going to decide), I need to be able to MANUALLY set my status to Away, Invisible etc and to know whether a person is on a mobile device. Sure hope this is a quick fix and they have something more substantial in the works. Looks like I'll still be using IMO.
  • On the one hand, I say good job Google. On the other hand, I say, at this rate of adding much clamored for features, it should be around 2025 that they make Hangouts the all inclusive messaging app with SMS/MMS/GV, etc. integration everyone has been hoping for. Then they'll see a massive adoption of users.
  • Agreed, they do that and the usage will just skyrocket. Posted via Android Central App
  • Did they fix the horrendous lag yet? This app is practically unusuable with the lag.
  • What lag? I use this app exclusively for messaging and the only lag I've ever had was when my network reception was poor up in the mountains.
  • Finally! There is dirt, then 60 feet of crap, then there's iOS...
  • Most awaited feature! Hope to get the update soon and I could re-enable hangouts (totally useless before).
  • Rolling back again. Online/Offline isn't enough. Why is it necessary to drop essential features just to introduce a crappy, bloated UI? Is it that much harder to just display an icon with the actual status returned from the backend? Hopefully nobody from the G+/Hangouts team gets put on the search team, or tomorrow Google Search will remove all of the tools and replace your search box with a picture of a magnifying glass that you click over and over until you find what you want.
  • I uploaded it for you guys that cant wait. I hope this is allowed.
  • So 2 days later and I still have no update for hangouts yet!! Sorry google but until I get that update, I'm uninstalling and going back to Gtalk!! Posted via your phone
  • Today a phone call to my Google Voice number was routed to my computer screen... It said I had a call in Hangouts the same minute my phone was ringing...