Amongst the other things being announced overnight at Google I/O was something we’d certainly anticipated and lusted for, the much-rumoured update to Google’s messaging platforms that would unite them all under one brand — Hangouts.
This morning, Hangouts is live on the Play Store and you can update to it right now.
The new, stand-alone version of Hangouts combines text, photos and live video across Android, iOS and your computer. The app is pretty fast, it’s free, and includes a number of key benefits, like (taken from Google’s presser):
- Messaging is richer, and more responsive. Photos and emoji make conversations more fun, while real-time activity indicators really bring them to life.
- Your conversations can last. With conversation history, you can swipe back in time and relive all your favorite moments. (You can also turn off history, if you want.)
- No more annoying notifications. Once you see a notification on one device, we’ll clear it from your other Android devices and computers. You can also snooze notifications when you don’t want to be interrupted.
- You can always say hello, face-to-face-to-face. Whether you’re 1-on-1 or with a group of friends, you can always make a free video call to everyone you’re with.
- The app is available in lots of places. You can download Hangouts from Google Play, the App Store, and the Chrome Web Store. It’s also part of Gmail and Google+.
We’ve updated it on our devices. Hangouts replaces Talk, so you may have to restart your device to get the update to appear as available. Update: This doesn’t work for everyone. It seems that if you open the Play Store website (click the Install link in our app widget below) you can ‘force’ the update to your selected handset(s). We have heard some rumours that the app won’t install on tablets — yet — but undoubtedly this will be fixed fairly soon.
It looks good, and it works cross platform exactly as promised. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that it doesn’t (at the moment) integrate with SMS and MMS, though it looks like this is something that could change in future, because on installing or using the app for the first time, you’re prompted to verify your mobile number (if on a mobile device) to link it to your profile.
Have a play, let us know what you think.