The Google Hangouts app for Android has been pretty awesome ever since it was updated to serve as an SMS app, but it wasn’t true integration of Hangouts and SMS. It just put them into one app, separating them between different pages. However, with this latest update, true integration has come. SMS and Hangout conversations are now merged into one screen.
With the new system, you choose between sending a Hangout message and a text using the button on the bottom left. Outgoing Hangout messages are green, while outgoing texts are white. Incoming messages are all white, but the timestamp will have “SMS” written next to it if it’s a text. I was never a huge fan of the idea of merged conversations, but it works really well. And if you don’t like it, you can always unmerge the conversations.
There are also other changes. The notification sound has been tweaked. It’s a similar notification sound, but higher pitched and more tinny. Then there’s a homescreen widget, something many people have been begging for. The rest of the changes have been detailed in this changelog:
- Merged SMS/Hangout conversations: SMS and Hangout conversations with the same recipient are now combined into a single conversation. You can control whether you want to send a message via Hangouts or SMS with the flip of a switch, and different message types will be easy to tell apart in the conversation. Of course, you can always merge and unmerge conversations if you’d like
- Highlighted outgoing Hangout messages
- Simplified contact list: now there’s two main sections in contacts — People you Hangout With, and Phone Contacts — making it simpler to navigate, and easier to use for SMS
- More Prominent Presence Status (on call, moods, etc)
- New Notification sound
- Separate voice and video call tones
- Performance improvements: today’s update includes better quality video calls, as well as improved SMS and MMS reliability
- Home screen widget: add the Hangouts widget to your homescreen for quick access to your recent conversations
It’s a significant update that added a lot of functionality, and I’m sure Hangouts fans will be very pleased. Next, Google needs to add Voice integration; then everyone will be happy. The update may take a few days to roll out to everyone, as per Google’s tradition, so if you don’t see it now, wait a little while. If you did get the update, tell us what you think of it in the comments!