Today's Hangouts update was a bit of a surprise. Besides landing on Monday, the update was a fairly large one. Users of the latest version of Hangouts are already enjoying merged SMS/Hangouts threads, improved status markers, a new home screen widget, new sound effects, the ability to share contact cards, and other touches. But - as with any Google update - it's worth looking a little deeper in the app to see what may be hiding in the code. Often times, tearing down an APK can give us at least some hints as to future functionality, and today's update is no different. Let's get started.

Google Voice

First, and perhaps most exciting, there are tons of tidbits related to Google Voice. The integration, from the code we have, looks to include SMS, phone, and voicemail functionality, with some pretty interesting bonus features tossed in. Before we look at it, it's important to note that the code present so far is very sparse. It's possible that Voice integration is being worked on in a separate branch, but for whatever reason a few tidbits were already added to the public release.

First, the visuals. The building avatar would act as a placeholder for businesses, while the tape icons would be voicemail indicators. The Google Voice launcher icon is also included for reasons that are unclear.


It's also unclear for now just how the integration will work interface-wise, but there are loads of strings pointing to what will be possible. It's clear that users will have the option to "migrate" Voice to Hangouts, choose to use Voice for SMS, choose to see voicemail notifications in Hangouts, and perhaps place phonecalls from Hangouts using Voice.

<string name="gv_voicemail_notification_enabled_key">gv_voicemail_notification_enabled_key</string>
<string name="gv_voicemail_sound_key">gv_voicemail_sound_key</string>
<string name="gv_voicemail_vibrate_key">gv_voicemail_vibrate_boolean_key</string>
<string name="google_voice_messages_key">google_voice_messages_boolean_key</string>
<string name="gv_sms_notifications_key_title">Google Voice SMS</string>
<string name="google_voice_preference_category">GOOGLE VOICE - %s</string>
<string name="butter_bar_gv_promo_title">Migrate Google Voice to Hangouts</string>
<string name="sms_default_send_from_summary_with_number">Google Voice - %s</string>
<string name="sms_default_send_from_summary_without_number">Google Voice</string>

<string name="hangout_gv_insufficient_funds_dialog_title">Call ended</string>
<string name="hangout_gv_add_balance">Add Balance</string>
<string name="google_voice_messages_title">Messages</string>
<string name="google_voice_messages_summary">Show SMS &amp; voicemail in Hangouts</string>
<string name="google_voice_number_delimeter">", "</string>
<string name="via_gv">via GV</string>

Smart Reply

Those who choose to send SMS messages using Voice may have one additional option, for now known as Smart Reply. This will automatically choose which number to default to based on the last received message, helping users keep communications consistent when using their Voice or carrier numbers in Hangouts.

<string name="sms_smart_reply_title">Smart Reply</string>

<string name="sms_smart_reply_summary">Reply with your Google Voice or carrier number based on the last recieved sms in the conversation</string>

For now, the hints at Voice integration are fairly bare-bones, but things look promising.

SMS/MMS Backup

Interestingly, there is code suggesting the ability to dump SMS and MMS messages to a file, and later load information from that dump, essentially providing a backup solution for your SMS on Hangouts.

<string name="dump_sms_pref_key">dump_sms_pref_key</string>
<string name="dump_mms_pref_key">dump_mms_pref_key</string>
<string name="dump_sms_pref_title">Dump SMS</string>
<string name="dump_sms_pref_summary">Dump received SMS raw data into external storage file</string>
<string name="dump_mms_pref_title">Dump MMS</string>
<string name="dump_mms_pref_summary">Dump received MMS raw data into external storage file</string>
<string name="email_sms_mms_dump_file_subject">SMS dump file</string>
<string name="email_sms_mms_dump_file_chooser_title">Email SMS dump</string>
<string name="load_sms_mms_from_dump_file_dialog_title">Load dump file</string>
<string name="email_sms_mms_from_dump_file_dialog_title">Email dump file</string>


This one is still something of a mystery to us. There are strings and visual assets related to "Pano," which would at first blush appear to be related to the Camera's pano provider, which provides panorama/photo sphere browsing data to other apps, though it's unclear how these bits and pieces relate. Let's take a look at the related visuals first.


And here are the relevant bits of code:

<string name="pano_participant_mute">pano_participant_mute</string>
<string name="pano_participant_pin">pano_participant_pin</string>
<string name="pano_participant_ignore">pano_participant_ignore</string>
<string name="pano_self_toggle_audio_mute">pano_self_toggle_audio_mute</string>
<string name="pano_self_toggle_video_mute">pano_self_toggle_video_mute</string>
<string name="pano_self_invite">pano_self_invite</string>
<string name="pano_self_leave">pano_self_leave</string>
<string name="pano_ignore">pano_ignore</string>
<string name="pano_block">pano_block</string>
<string name="pano_cancel">pano_cancel</string>

<string name="pano_switch_account_browse_item">Switch accounts</string>
<string name="pano_pin_circles_browse_item">Select visible circles</string>
<string name="pano_pin_circles_description">Select the circles to display on the contact list.</string>

To sum up what we have so far, there are visuals related to contacts and circles, and strings related to participants, invites, and muting, making it appear to be related to video chat. What exactly it is has yet to be agreed upon among AP staff, but if you have an idea let us know!

Final Thoughts

That's all we've got for now. If you've found anything else digging around, let us know. Otherwise, if you haven't already, head to our original coverage to grab the update.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Guest
    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Yep. A similar one (seen in that post) is already in use as a business placeholder avatar. This one, interestingly, has a gap between the two buildings.

      • Kieron Quinn

        Would that hint at a merge of Voice, "People" and Hangouts? Like a full on contact centre?

        • gmaninvan

          Not likely. People is rumored to be merging with the dialer

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            It was split before, and now it's supposedly being merged again? Bah.

          • Bariman43

            They probably realized how silly of an idea it was to separate them, so now they're putting them back together.

          • gmaninvan

            Not sure what you mean. The dialer and contacts (people) apps have always been separate apk's. Yes, the dialer had limited ability to access the directory but the people app has always been redundant to it. A full merge makes sense.

            Alternatively, a more robust people app also makes sense and strip this from the dialer. One of the two needs to happen.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            Ah, I didn't realize they were always separate.

      • Cameron F

        Well, that icon has been used in a Hangouts application already, so I wouldn't read to much into it.

        If using Google Apps for Business, search for a colleagues name in the Hangouts application from Gmail. Anyone inside your domain has the icon next to them. Screenshot attached.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Ah, thanks for the heads-up. I hadn't seen it around in Hangouts before.

  • Robert Macri

    Share Contact cards? I can't seem to find this.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      You'll need to open "People" then select a contact, go to the overflow menu and hit "share." Then you can choose hangouts. Once you select a recipient it will attach the card. You can only send cards to contacts who have an actual phone number, though.

      • Robert Macri

        Ah... Interesting, you can only send them over SMS.

        • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

          Yeah, where's our option for attaching files to Hangouts messages using Google Drive as the storage backend?

      • Abhilash Bingi

        Still can't find it. I have option to share it with Whatsapp, but not hangouts : /

      • http://about.me/jovanphilip Van

        That's odd. While I have the option to share it, I can't actually send the contact card through Hangouts.

  • frafri

    I loved that it said " based on the last message , hangouts has switched to hangouts/SMS " Very cool feature. and I also love the green. :)

    • strikeir13

      I think the green seems reminiscent of the leaked Dialer/other Gapps screenshots. More color definitely seems to be headed to Google apps, which I'm perfectly ok with

      • ddpacino

        All these recent leaks and updates about color.... it only makes me feel that the notification shade needs some polishing. Give us a lighter color scheme.

    • Zak Taccardi

      Hopefully we'll be able to respond to a Google Voice text without using Mobile data or Wi-Fi. Then the future is here!

      • frafri

        How coulld that be done?
        shittt, I hope to use youtube in the background without having to leave the phone on :)

        • GuyWhoUsesGoogleVoice

          It can be done currently. Google voice generates a number for each individual contact that you can text and the message is redirected as being from your Google voice number.

          • abqnm

            Sort of. It does still need mobile data to generate the number to begin with.

          • frafri

            Thats what I was thinking. You do need some type of data. if only phones worked by tethering each other . that would be radical

        • Zak Taccardi

          They do it with call forwarding, I'm sure some type of system could be designed for text forwarding.

      • Bob


      • hp420

        That is the entire point of GV....no carrier service required! This would literally be the death of GV.

  • jamaall

    Pano so you can send photospheres better?

  • simp1istic

    At this point ANY news about google voice is good.

    • Lexster

      Unless that news is that they're shutting down the service.

      • simp1istic


      • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

        Well, technically we all know they will shut the service down... but it looks like the features will be safely migrated to Hangouts, so I'm fine with that!

        • Jason Rittenhouse

          the app will be shut down, not the service.

        • csharpner

          Right, what +Jason Rittenhouse said. They are NOT shutting down the _*SERVICE!*_ They'll just move the APP functionality from one app to another. Which app happens to be the client to the service is irrelevant to me, just as long as I have the functionality available to me.

          HOWEVER, they WILL be shutting down XMPP on May 15, 2014. THAT is a HUGE LOSS for myself as my home phone service uses an Obi110 box connected directly to my Google Voice account. So, on May 15, our household will be cell phone only (no house land line) for the first time ever.

          • Jason Rittenhouse

            I'm still hoping they will offer some alternative (or eventually create a new alternative) to the loss of the Voice API. we'll see though.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            Perhaps I used the wrong term; I simply meant that the Google Voice name and domain will soon be gone, as everything seems to be moving into the Hangouts name.

          • Royal2000H

            Yep, I have an Obi too.. kinda bummed about that but hopefully we get some fine Hangouts+GV integration at the same time.

          • Smashley

            ...but your phone will be on WiFi and you can make and receive calls with Hangouts...

        • btstump

          Yeah, Voice has a clunky interface anyway. The fact they haven't updated it tells me that Hangouts will probably be its replacement.

      • Jack Rosenthal

        Google Voice has already been shut down in a way... try finding a new google voice number in your state. Chances are you won't find one! Google is selling all of their numbers back.

  • sdfsdfsdf


    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Good point, we'll address it soon.

      • Nathan Borup


    • Cesar B

      Spotted the apple fan boy.

      • Android Developer

        how come? auto-correct?

        • R0binhood

          Cuz fanboys talk nonsense!

  • George Bakos

    guys I have a question. When I have a merged contact it shows the name/photo of their google+ profile and not the name/photo I have in my contacts. can I change it? It drives me crazy after I updated

    • nxtiak

      Go to your Contacts, pick the contact, click edit and it should show their regular photo, tap it and select Use This Picture, then save.

  • JPB

    When I merged contacts, it uses my son's YouTube handle instead of his actual name. Any way for me to fix that or does he have to come over to the dark side (Google+) first?

    • hp420

      Go into your Google contacts from your desktop browser to change it. This will set the original contact's name to whatever you choose and when it syncs with your devices the changes will be reflected.

      • Michigan Guy

        Still uses the G+ profile name...

  • Guest

    How do you guys do the tear downs ?

  • Ross MacRae

    I keep getting an MMS issue. "Could't download MMS, Touch to download again: but it never does. This was an issue in the last version, and even now that I loaded 2.1 as well. This only seems to happen when my only iPhone using freind send me pics... never from Android devices.

    • abqnm

      Do you have a GSM phone? Go into SMS settings in Hangouts and go down to APN settings. Make sure yours is correct for your carrier (Google can help you find yours). I noticed that when I updated yesterday mine was switched from T-Mobile to MetroPCS.

      • Raj Bhatt

        WTF, mine was on MetroPCS as well! Which option did you choose, epc.tmobile.com or fast.tmobile.com ? My instinct says to choose "fast" but my instincts are often wrong haha

        • abqnm

          I switched it to fast as that is what I have my mms APN set to in Android Settings. So far so good. It could vary by area, but fast is pretty much the standard APN for T-Mobile.

  • Gregor Smith

    Managed to get duplicate MMS in messages, with no way of removing the copy. Most odd indeed

  • hp420

    Am I mistaken, or is that a new g-voice icon?

  • Marc Mendoza

    All I want is to be able to tap a sms contact picture and have it take me to their people card. I don't think that's too much to ask.
    Tapping a hangout contact pic takes you to their G+, where's that same function locally??

    • guest

      And search feature like the sms app pre kitkat

    • Matthew Fry

      It does that in the browser version too. It's annoying as hell.

  • clay

    i like the old notification sound better. anyone have a rip of it? the new one is higher pitch and sounds more like a tin can.

    • Arthur Dent

      I posted a link in the story from yesterday.

    • Adam Truelove

      It is much tinnier. I wonder why they changed it.

    • Bryson

      Thought I was going crazy

  • Nuno Guerreiro

    Hangouts now has a widget and lockscreen widget!!!! Finally!!! (I don't remember seeing it on previous versions!!)

    • Matthew Fry

      It matches gmail and email even. Huzzah for uniformity. Now all they need is quick reply and it'll be a fully functioning SMS app.

  • Paddy O’Reilly

    Pano could be a reference to "panopticon"

  • rmkilc

    I want Hangouts to sync my SMS/MMS messages with my other devices through my Google account, so I can view and text from my tablet. When sending a text from my tablet, it would sync in real time to my phone, which would send the text.

    • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

      You do realize that is what this article is implying, right?

      • rmkilc

        Uh, no. Where did you see that?

        • Cesar B

          Use "mightytext" for that

          • rmkilc

            Mightytext doesn't integrate with Hangouts.

          • frafri

            beggers cant be choosers.

        • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

          Because sending and receiving texts, and syncing them between devices, is all part of Google Voice. If Hangouts starts allowing you to use Google Voice texts within Hangouts... well, you get the idea, right?

          • rmkilc

            That's Google Voice SMS. I am talking about your carriers SMS/MMS. These are two separate things.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            Why would you do that instead of just using Google Voice SMS? This solves your use case and allows you to text without your phone at all, as well as allowing you to text from a desktop. If you're worried about giving out a new phone number, you should be able to port your current number to Google Voice. The solution you're proposing seems like a pretty narrow use case that adds a lot of hassle for the developers.

          • rmkilc

            Porting to Google Voice is the narrow use case. Most people are not going to do that. What I am proposing would be more widespread, and not put dependence of your phone number into something Google may kill off one day.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            Porting to Google Voice is an already existing and working option. You are proposing a whole new branch of functionality that would only work on Android phones in conjunction with Android tablets, precluding anyone who uses iOS or a combination of the two, all so you don't have to pull your phone from your pocket. Google is already working on a solution to the exact same scenario, with much broader use. Why would they do it your way instead?

          • Ninboy

            Basically because Android+Hangouts is not something that only works on US and Google Voice is. Any people outside some "privileged" countries will never have SMS sync with hangouts if "lets just use GV for it" wins.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            But the proper solution there is for Google to get Voice out to other countries (which, by the way, what are they waiting for?). I still think syncing Hangouts directly between a phone and tablet is a wonky solution at best.

          • Ninboy

            The proper way is to sync the SMS you receive the same way they already do with Hangouts chats. So you can watch them on any device and your Gmail if you want. AND if you _choose_ to use GV then you can send SMS from gmail and tablets, besides your phone. Something like what iMessage already does.
            Eventually they then can deliver SMS to a contact only if the Hangouts wasn't received for some seconds, or something like that. So you never have to worry about mobile signal void points.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            Actually, yeah... that sounds a lot better than using your phone as a dependency. In fact, since some people are reporting SMS conversations are being backed up invisibly by 2.1, there's really no reason they couldn't work this out as an option for people who don't choose to (or can't) use Google Voice.

          • Ninboy

            That's why I said that you can send SMS through your Gmail or tablet only if you chose to use Google Voice. If you can't or don't want to then the SMS on Gmail and tablets are for "read only".

            ... Unless they send a push message to your phone and send the SMS "invisibly" through Hangouts apk? I think that would be a bit... hackerish, but maybe it could work.

          • hp420

            May kill off???? lol....I paid for my phone number for life. Do you understand that? For Google to kill voice would start a whole incident with customers like me who paid the fee to get a lifetime GV number.

          • ashley parish

            really? I ported my number to GV over a year ago. Since I could forward the number to any number, any carrier. ring multiple lines,computers etc. I decided to port to GV once and never have to worry about porting ever. I have changed carriers twice since and no one notices or knows my cel numbers have changed because my caller id is the same as ever. GV is just SO much more flexible and the main /issue/ was mms texts which hangouts is expected to resolve. So I strongly disagree that porting to GV is rare or unlikely. I wish I could port my biz # to GV. My question is why wouldn't you port to GV!!! You can port out any old time.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

            Agreed, I ported as well for all the reasons mentioned. Plus calling too Europe is like pennies a minute, a plus for me.

          • hp420

            I haven,t used my carrier to send an sms since I signed up for service over a year ago, and I think most Google Voice customers are the same way. Standard SMS is all but worthless to us.

          • NealD

            SMS short codes do not work with google voice last I checked.

    • LuckyHermit

      That is a feature of Google Voice.

    • timmmay

      This is why we love Google voice :) I even ported my number in a couple years back. Its just so painful to never receive an update to the service. Didn't we go 4 years without a mention?

  • Ruden

    and still no way to implement OTR

  • Andrew

    I noticed some changes in video chat in hangouts as well. The end call button is a much larger button at the bottom. Can't remember what else.

  • http://www.thepeoplesview.net/ Spandan

    This is awesome! I have been waiting to see how the integration is going to work.

  • Stephen McGann

    Will I still be able to make VOIP calls with out a carrier? I don't fully understand the required acronyms to make this work, I just want to be able to make Phone calls on the wireless with my tablet and right now I use groove IP

    • Cesar B

      Not yet

    • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

      If the "call phone" option in Hangouts through desktop / iOS is any indication, you will be able to do this on Android sooner or later (hopefully by around Google I/O).

  • Sam Del Valle

    Wonder what will happen to the voicemail users on Google voice that are on Sprint

  • MattEden

    I'm still waiting for them to fix the design choice that forces me to close out of Hangouts to get back to my Contact list once I've selected a thread to read.

    • Brayden Reesor

      Just press the "+" on the action bar on the conversation list to go to the contact list.

  • http://www.radioshak.co.uk Shakil Shaikh

    Backup to /file/? What is this, the 2000s?

    • Gregor Smith

      Backup to file which is then sent to Google Drive sound better?

    • PiLoT .

      yes. for a long time yet

    • Just_Some_Nobody

      It is, but that's besides the point.

      Backup to a file allows me to:
      Move it to desktop
      Move it to LAN
      Save that file to a Dropbox folder
      Save that file to a GDrive folder

      What? Do you want GDrive only? Pffffft....

  • http://www.lostsaloon.com/ Ferdinand

    There has not much of news about Google Voice lately which makes it scary. I hope it does not make it to the list in the next Spring cleaning....It is too good of a convenience product.

  • Tyler Shaw

    The update broke importing friends profile pictures.

  • https://google.com/+SharifShajibAhammed Sharif Shajib Ahammed

    I'm missing the contacts sharing option. Please help.

  • tlingitsoldier

    Is it possible that the Pano portion is referring to Panoramio? http://www.panoramio.com/

  • Albert H

    You know what? This is going to be Google's legit (and awesomer!) answer to iMessage. Long time coming, but better late than never, right?

  • Steven Money

    Would suck a Google dick for quick reply.

  • Алекс

    Why not Cloud Backup?!?!

  • viguera

    Pano seems to be multi-user video chat based on G+? Those are the Google+ Circle icons, the mention of invite, mute and ignore seem to fit.

  • Raymond Berger

    As for Google Voice integration, have any of you tried this?


    • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

      I stopped hacking my phone with the introduction of the Nexus 4. :-/

      • Raymond Berger

        I haven't used a custom rom in a few years. I just like to have some root tools and xposed modules for fun.

  • Vik Desai

    Do you guys have a solution for better contact management ?

    I've got dozens of duplicates and random people that i emailed once 2 years ago.

  • Crispin Swickard

    Very good news for us that even just use voice for the VM functionality. Not exactly one less app since I don't even have hangouts enabled on my N5 at the moment even, but an app that is being maintained is a big plus.

  • qpinto

    All we need now is for hangouts to integrate phone numbers like iMessage. that way i dont have to switch from sms to "data message" manually with other hangouts users for people that have hangouts but dont use/check it. Users should have their phone number registered to hangouts should automatically send messages via hangouts automatically if they are registered, That would be great so we could send messages via computer, tablet, phone, anything with hangouts installed via sms to everyone.

    • spacekobra

      That's bad a UX because this is multiplatform. Imagine your friend sending you a text and then they get a reply in hangouts. The messages would be all over the place. Or imagine a friend who only has hangouts on PC (windows phone users) they'd never get your message and you wouldn't be able to chose to send a text.

      Sure it works great for you but you have to think of the people on the receiving end.

      • gmaninvan

        I get what you are saying but you have to remember that hangouts already knows what device you are using. I agree in the case of the iPhone though. Unless they open it up to third party SMS, which they never will, Hangouts will never be able to have that integration on the iPhone.

        They could make it automatic for android devices though. I wonder if Google could create a workaround that takes hangout messages and dumps them into the iOS sms app.

        • spacekobra

          But again, using SMS as a fallback and not as choice makes for really convoluted messaging on non-android platforms. iMessage works that way because its exclusive. When people switch platforms it causes headaches.

          Actually, it's actually pretty automatic right now. When you receive an SMS hangouts switches to SMS mode and when you receive a message it switches to hangouts. It's pretty neat.

          But I totally get what you mean. My friend doesn't have data so hangouts isn't always the best option. Having the fallback would be helpful in that case. If its important I chose to send a text.

          Personally, I like having the choice.

  • MrWicket

    I just hope things like MMS and Group Texting will be included/fixed. Only recently have these 2 things become a issue and I just keep telling myself to hang on a little longer.

  • btstump

    I'd just like the option to send SMS messages from my Nexus 7 that's connected to the same Google account as my Nexus 5. Would be great.

  • http://chadbordes.com Chad Bordes

    At this point, i won't be switching just yet. When i tried using it the other night, it will NOT send MMS messages over wifi (tmobile) like the stock messaging app will do. Im not sure if it is a routing thing or if it is trying to send the message via my google voice number since i have both my cell and my gv listed in my hangouts

  • Montro

    I'm on Sprint with LG G2 and I can't the APN settings anymore. Anyone else?

  • ProtoKun7

    Last night I had Hangouts default to IM in one conversation after I'd previously sent an SMS (not with Voice, being in the UK). I thought it was a very nice touch.

  • Dave West
  • http://ryannedeff.com Ryan Nedeff

    This "Pano" visuals are icons from Google Hangouts.

  • Ross MacRae

    Have they removed the Search function in Hangouts 2.1 now? I can't seem to find it now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003386080045 John doe

    So glad to hear Google Voice is sticking around, It would suck if it went away. Its great to have one number no matter whicj carrier i jump too.