Today Google shipped a major update to their Hangouts application for Android. Ever since Hangouts for iOS was updated to 4.0 a little over a month ago Android users have been waiting for the update to make its way to Android. This update has been in the pipeline for quite some time, and it comes with a comprehensive redesign that brings the Hangouts app in line with Google's Material Design visual guidelines.

Visually, Hangouts 4.0 for Android is very similar to what shipped on iOS a little while ago. This isn't surprising, as Google's applications for iOS use their Material Design principles heavily. There are a few small differences, such as the spacing of the quick access buttons underneath the message input field, and the calling controls not being hidden behind the three dot overflow menu, but the overall appearance is the same. The appearance is definitely a departure from the previous design which had a strange dual list design which was separated into two tabs.

On top of the redesign, Google claims that Hangouts 4.0 has noticeable improvements to performance, reliability, and battery consumption. I personally have never had many issues with Hangouts on Android, but any improvements to performance are always welcomed.

Hangouts 4.0 is currently rolling out in stages, and users can expect to receive the update in the near future if they haven't already.

Source: Official Google Blog

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  • Impulses - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    What's wrong with group SMS? Always seemed to work fine for me...
  • vLsL2VnDmWjoTByaVLxb - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Wish they had an option for light text on dark background. Or some form of customization?

    Wish SMS integration didn't suck. I can't recall the bugs that existed months ago, but it was enough for me to look into other SMS apps.

    Will give it another shot. In general, I do like hangouts.
  • Drumsticks - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    I'm still waiting on a decent quick reply feature. Messenger's is pretty poor; you can't read the message while you're typing, and it still takes up the entire screen. It's almost impossible to read all of a large message, which defeats the point of a quick reply in the first place. To my knowledge, Hangouts still doesn't seem to have quick reply either, which is just disappointing.

    I'd use Textra if I could, but for some weird reason setting it to default makes my entire GS6 painfully slow (multiple seconds to open text message quick replies, other apps, etc.) Switching to messenger (or maybe hangouts) makes this noticeably better. I'm hoping getting 5.1.1 on AT&T someday might fix it, because I really do like Textra.
  • vLsL2VnDmWjoTByaVLxb - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Here's some elaboration:

    Sometimes right swipe archives. Sometimes it brings you to a different page.

    The "Phone" icon, which calls someone is too close to video and dropdown icons. There's a few issues with this: Almost everyone in my contact list hits it accidentally. I hit it accidentally. If you rotate your screen you might be typing, and then activate it. It's such bad UI. It makes me want to avoid Hangouts, terribly.

    The whole SMS integration needs a complete overhaul. I would love SMS syncing to desktop gmail like Apple has.

    Critical bugs: I've just had messages never shown on mobile Hangouts, but they were shown in desktop/mail client. Sometimes I never see them, sometimes they show up after parts of a conversation has occurred. This has happened for years now.
  • imaheadcase - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Now if they can get Chrome for crashing after 3+ years of using it every couple minutes that would be great...i start every crash report for chrome like im best friends with google.. "its me again google.." I just send Chrome crash reports in spite now, i let them know how my day is going, what i had for lunch, etc.
    They always "thank me for the report" so I know they care. I have a running tally, i've actually sent over 300 chrome crash reports in the last 3 years. lol
  • wanderer000 - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    What phone are you using, jesus? That's awful. Personally, I've never heard of such a thing.
  • Milind - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Hangout's is Google's iTunes. It's such a horribly convoluted and bewildering UI.

    Google Talk which it replaced was significantly easier to use. First of all, you could have only a small set of users that you normally want to chat with. It showed who was online and who wasn't. If I want to chat with someone I need to know that I'll get an immediate response. If I wanted to send a potentially asynchronous message I'd send an SMS or an email. I could hold multiple conversations with different people and swipe left or right to switch conversations.

    The end result is that I pretty much rarely use Hangouts anymore on the phone. I continued to use the desktop version until they dropped PC support. Now I use Pidgin for as long as that will continue. But I rarely respond on the phone and definitely never initiate conversations. If I need to chat these days, it's through What's App. Which is another awful app (just about the worst cloud texting app that can be created). But at least from a UI perspective it's reasonably decent.

    I'm just dreading when they integrate Google Voice into Hangouts and drop the GV app. I use GV heavily and I'll pretty much have to find something else and there isn't a whole lot like GV out there. Based on the Google Talk integration, I fully expected the GV integration to be terrible. On some things Google doesn't disappoint.

    Apple's loaded a simple and very useful iTunes app with feature after feature until it turned into a bloated incoherent piece of crap. And Google decided that they should do the same with Google Talk.
  • Bob-o - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    It would be great if more people investigated Bleep for messaging.
  • soccerballtux - Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - link

    drop all of that and use mightytext
  • wanderer000 - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Check the new update for Hangouts. It's much better now.

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