The web version of Hangouts, tucked away in the bottom of left-hand corner of Gmail or the right-hand side of Google+, has just received an update that hearkens back to simpler times. Now when a contact is currently available, a green dot is displayed atop their avatar (instead of the green line the web version used to display). It's not exactly the same green dot that many of us grew accustomed to in the days of Google Talk, but it gets the point across. In addition, avatars are round now, and there's a new search icon for quickly picking out friends.

Hangouts1 Hangouts2

No, the dot doesn't come in multiple colors to indicate away status like it used to (or let you set an away or idle status), but hey, Google would much rather you check this out - now Hangouts will let you set your mood using an emoticon.


The changes are rolling out today, with there being a good chance that they're already activated for your account. Go take a look, and if you walk away thinking that these differences are stinky, Google has just the emoticon to express how you feel.


Source: Google+

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Tyler

    The web version has always had an online indicator. It used to be a green bar under the contact's imagine.

    • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

      Yes, and that line is now a green dot.

      • Tyler

        The article made it seem as if the online indicator was never there.

        • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

          I hear you. Hopefully the updated text is clearer.

          • Tyler

            Brilliant :)

    • didibus

      I couldn't for the life of me discern if that line was green or grey, given I have a pretty colorful gmail background. The dot is a welcomed changed.

      • kieraeastedi321

        my dad
        got a superb Honda Accord Coupe by working part-time at home... read review

  • MagicMiguel

    Hoping this rolls out to the Chrome extension soon too.

    • Pedro Segura Martín

      I was about to write exactly the same :)

    • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

      It is rolling out to the Chrome extension at the same time. I got it on my Chrome extension before I got it on Gmail, actually.

      • SpiderDice

        Is there a way to force an update check?

        • Mskina

          Just restart Chrome and it will be updated

          • Jimas

            No APKs to download??? :)

          • SpiderDice

            Confirmed to work.

    • Tristan Hammond

      Now if only they'd build the Chrome extension to allow tabbed conversations; anything over a couple chats and screen real estate becomes pretty obnoxious. =/

      • ddpacino

        Simply.... make it optional!

      • DoctorRabbitfoot

        Did you know you can "pull" the convos off of the bottom of the screen and dock them to another monitor? Then you can double click the headers to minimize and maximize the convos (similar to how the dedicated Windows Gtalk app used to work)


        • Tristan Hammond

          Yeah, but when you have a lot of active conversations, having to constantly minimize and open them back up gets to be pretty tedious. I currently have the bottom half of a 2nd monitor dedicated solely to Hangouts conversations (work and home folks) so it'd be nice to just have one chat/IM window to bounce around in outside of the browser window instead of needing to stack like 5-10 conversations.

          Also, sadly, the multiple monitor thing occasionally freaks Hangouts out. My laptop or desktop will go to sleep (or even just put the display to sleep) and when I wake it up, the conversations are all over the place and sometimes just white boxes (Win and OSX). It's bizarre.

          Boooo. Haha.

          • DoctorRabbitfoot

            I could definitely see that. I don't seem to have much issues with the dual monitor setup, other than occasional weird graphic glitch, but not sure if I can blame Hangouts for that.

            I'm with you tho - any improvement to the Hangout app is welcomed. I use it a ton.

          • pallzoltan

            The problem is that on the Mac it's very clumsy to switch between windows. You can switch processes easily. And i guess Google doesn't want to deliver very different experience on the two platforms. It bugs me too tho, especially that activating a chat window throws you back into the gmail tab (i have gmail constantly open)

        • http://www.daverobertson.me Dave Robertson

          Still using Google Talk here. They really need to crib more of its functionality.

      • shabbypenguin

        I would even just be happy if hangouts worked how it does on chromeos. http://www.digitaltrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Chrome-OS-hell-week-screenshot-google-hangouts.jpg

        • Tristan Hammond

          Good point, actually. My Chromebook handles those conversations like a champ compared to my desktop or laptop simply because of the dedication to each conversation on the taskbar.

        • ddpacino

          Selling point for Google Services on ChromeOS

        • Quentin SILVESTRE

          Thank you so much. I have a chromebook and i didn't know that.

    • haimn

      my Chrome extension changed

  • scuttlefield

    Each time Google does an update, I keep hoping we'll get status notifications back (I mean real ones with full text, like we used to have). I know...I'm a dreamer.

    • ddpacino

      I don't think that's ever going to happen. Google has seem to have redefined how they want their chat platform to work.

  • Jiggy

    I personally do not like the rounded profile pictures at all. Makes it look very cluttered, iOS 7-esque, and ugly, all at the same time. Plus wastage of space.

  • ddpacino

    I seen this earlier, but just seen it on my account. Cool.

  • Mskina

    I don't get the rounded profile pictures. Really, doesn't make any sense :|

    • Ryan O’Neill

      Consistency. It's a UI design thing. Kind of like Google's signature

      • Mskina

        I know they're pushing it (well, not in all places), but i really don't like it and don't get why waste space

  • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

    Why do people stress the importance of an online indicator? You need to tell them a message? Just send the damn thing. They'll read it eventually. If it's important enough they'll reply.

    • Hooterman

      A thousand times this.

    • Simon Belmont

      If it's set to busy, I guess some people would take that as "don't bother me." But, you're right, it's an old custom of instant messengers of yore.

      I sort of miss knowing if someone is idle or not, but it's not a big deal. Old habits die hard.

      • didibus

        Why would I want to go back to a style of messaging that is less instant then instant!!?!

        If I want someone to eventually see the message, I can SMS him, leave him a Voice Mail, or send him an Email.

        If I want to instantly deliver him a message, I need to use an IM, and Hangouts is not a good one at the instantaneousness.

        • ddpacino

          How is it Not instant..?

        • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

          Hangouts is instant Bro. What are you going to do if he's showing online but don't reply? Are you going to go crazy? Online status' are old news. You don't need them.

          • didibus

            No it's not, because if he isn't online anywhere, the message is held onto Google's server, and delivered later, once my friend becomes online. That's not quite what I'd call instant. There's a much higher chance my SMS will reach him before my hangout message. And for that matter, I often do both, when I need a quick answer, I SMS and Hangout the message at the same time, guess what, never did they get the hangouts before the SMS.

          • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

            If your friend uses the Hangouts app on his phone then this is a non issue. Hangouts will always deliver the message if he has the app on his phone. If he doesn't.. then thats a problem you and your friend may need to work out.

          • didibus

            No, he will not always receive it, he still needs internet access. So if he doesn't have internet access, he will still get my SMS, but not hangouts. It's also hard for me to tell if he has Hangouts on his phone or not. And if you tell me I need to ask him first, what you think I'll use for that? SMS, if I'm SMSing him to know if he has Hangouts installed, why not just tell him what I want by SMS straight up instead.

    • Stacey Liu

      Sometimes you have a question multiple people probably know the answer to. You want to know who is available so you don't have to send out messages to 5 people.

      As a student, that's usually my use case.

      Also, sometimes you don't want to talk to anyone in particular, so you check to see who is online and talk to someone available.

      • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

        You can send Hangouts Messages to multiple people at once just like an MMS. BONUS: you can send to people who have Hangouts on iphone too!

        Everyone here is confusing Hangouts as an Instant Messenger of old. Those are long gone and old. Hangouts is just like iMessages on iphone. It's a messaging delivery service that uses the internet. That's it. The bonus with Hangouts is the inclusion of SMS/MMS capability.

        Whether people want to admit it or not, SMS/MMS messaging isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I use it on a daily basis for work because other people do. I try to use Hangouts as much as I can, but for now SMS/MMS is still the popular message delivery service.

    • Fatty Bunter

      Aside from what Stacey Liu said, it's useful for me to know to decide if I need to switch to SMS. Example:

      I am about to go for a run and stop by the local store on my way home. Need to ask my girlfriend beforehand to make a list of things she needs. We both prefer hangouts, but without an online indicator my best course of action would be to text since I would be unsure she would get the message otherwise.

      There are a ton of similar examples of this in my social behavior. Is it so hard to imagine?

      • didibus

        Exactly, and you shouldn't even have to make that decision yourself. Hangouts should be smart enough. If I'm sending a message from my phone to someone else whose mobile phone number I have listed. If that person is not online on Hangouts, it should automatically send as SMS.

      • borring

        Does your girlfriend have Hangouts installed on her phone?

        • didibus

          See, this is the problem. I don't know if she does. She might have had at one point, then deleted it. Or it might be signed out of it. This happens with friends too:

          Oh look, Person X is on hangouts cool: "Hi man..."

          Months later I learn Person X wasn't a douche, he just didn't have hangouts installed on his phone anymore.

    • http://mavi222.deviantart.com/gallery/ Mavi

      Because it's like normal calling vs. leaving a voice mail?

      • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

        Then call. If its that important to you to get in touch with said person.

    • didibus

      No they won't, that's the problem. The message is not guaranteed to be delivered to them. Neither in time, nor in forever. At least if they are online, you are pretty sure that they will at least see the message right away. And for some reason, when they are not, but still listed, you do not know if they will ever use Hangout again, so they might never receive it.

      • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

        Hangouts is my Default Messenger on Nexus 5. It shows me online ALWAYS. If I don't want to answer a particular person I won't. Just like SMS. That person might be too busy to answer your precious message.

        If your message is that important, call them. Remember.. its a phone.

        • didibus

          Your hangouts experience seems very different from mine.

          Mine does not reliably show Online status. I have hangouts on my phone, and I am always offline on someone that is on Gmail or Google+. I also don't consistently appear as Online on other people's Hangouts phone/tablet app. Often time, I'm chatting to someone on Gmail or Google+, or Hangouts, and we are having an active convo, we are both online, yet, the online indicator is greyed out.

          The indicator showing if the person is on Phone, Tablet or PC never works. Well, maybe 10% of the time it does.

          A lot of my contacts have probably not used Hangouts in more than a year. All these people on G+ that haven't been on G+ since the day they signed up to comment on YouTube. Or all those people I have emailed back in the Talks days, who don't have hangouts and never did. So I want to text someone I haven't before, but I have his contact in my Phone, it defaults to Hangouts, and bang, message is never delivered, because that guy actually has an iPhone without Hangouts, doesn't ever login to Google+, and uses a hotmail account. Why is someone like that on my Hangouts list of contacts? At least if it properly showed me something like Last Online, or Last Seen like Whats App does.

          Hangouts "delivered" system is just as flaky as the rest. The, has read up to here is slow to refresh, and doesn't always even truly refresh. Sometimes, they've read my message, but for some reason it doesn't reflect that. It also doesn't create a difference between the message having been delivered, and read. At least if I knew the message was delivered, meaning, it's available for him to read on one of his devices, I'd know for sure he will read it at some point. But since it only shows read status, I can not tell if it's just hanging on Google's servers, and might never actually reach him.

          You need to understand, you probably have the most simple setup for Hangouts. So for you, it might work well. If all my friend had Hangouts installed on their phones, used Gmail with Hangouts, and used Google+, and were very active on it at all times, it would probably work very well. Except, that's a very idealist reality, and not the case of at least I'd guess 50% of Hangouts users, so Google needs to address this reality.

          • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

            Google doesn't need to address anything. You answered your own question. How can you message someone if they don't have it on their phone? Haven't used Google+ or Hangouts in over a year? I mean really? You can't come here and complain stating that your problem is a problem 90% of other people have because that's simply not true.

            I wasn't aware of a simple vs expert setup mode in Hangouts. There's only one setup. You type a message utilizing Hangouts or its capability to send an SMS and there you go.

            It's probably wise to ensure that your buddy still uses Hangouts before pressing an issue that this app is broke.

          • didibus

            The app isn't broke, it's just lacking features that are important to messaging. I'm pointing those problems out. All these problems can be addressed by Google, and I'm sure it will in time. None of these fix would change your experience of Hangouts.

            I just find it sad that sometimes people like you question why other people are asking for x or y features. You obviously have smaller requirements, your use cases are not as extensive or don't fit in the category of people that want the feature. You wanted to know why people stress this as an important feature, I told you many reasons for it. You still seem to be closed minded about it though, your answer is to change our requirements, but that's just not really addressing the problem. Asking someone to change his taste buds so he can enjoy eating at a restaurant isn't a very good business strategy. Widening your menu, adding more choice, refining your selection, that's a way better way of doing it.

            The proof Google understands this is that they are actually implementing the features back. They realised that a good portion of people need them, to a point that it hurts their business not to have those in. So they are slowly adding the features back.

          • shalynne

            Question :
            If someone's light is green are they just online somewhere or did they hit green to say I'm available? ANd/Or does it mean chatting .....

    • woj_tek

      If I wanted to just send them a message I would use e-mail... this was supposed to be instant messages so knowing if someone is onnline or offline is crucial...

      • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

        I would have said SMS which is pretty much a message which is what you are doing with Hangouts. Bonus.. it's multiplatform. So basically what your asking is to blackball someone to force them to answer you because you see that they are online. Trust me if its crucial. Call them. You should try it.

    • abobobilly

      What if i don't want them to show that i am online?

      Please, enlighten me with your "Intelligent" views :

      • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

        Perhaps you should go back and re-read my comment. I posted against having an online indicator.. which means not showing you as being online. Let me know if you feel enlightened now.

  • Berto Maia

    I reverted to old chat, immediately clicked "try new hangouts" and voila! The new interface was there.

  • Marcell Lévai

    I still cry for better emoticons...

    • Hooterman

      Not necessarily better, just MORE!

      • didibus

        Too much are stupid things like buildings, and not enough are expressions.

        • nxtiak

          These emoji icons were designed a long time ago by a Japanese cell phone company. They're a standard. If you use emoji, this is it.
          It's like a keyboard, there's the certain letters and characters, that's it, can't add or remove letters you want or don't need.

          • thelionk

            Well, they forgot about hugging

    • nxtiak

      I find them just fine. They look nice to me. The iOS ones are super ugly and look old.

      • ddpacino

        The iOS app also had advocated emoji. Pretty much an expansion on the emoji Gifs you can share on Google+.

  • Simon Belmont

    Good. Now fix the Android version of Hangouts so my contacts' pictures show up in the notification pull down instead of the generic contact icon.

    Also, for good measure, fix the glitch where it acts like there's more than one person in a conversation besides me and a single recipient. Didn't have a problem with either of these issues until Hangouts 2.1

    • D

      Someone is always watching :)

  • Michael

    I hope they finally implement a search feature.

    • duse

      Seriously. The default IM/SMS app on Android, and no search feature. Pathetic, joke, take your pick of word.

    • nxtiak

      All chats are logged in Gmail, It's under the label Chats. That's searchable.

      • ddpacino

        Totally, I've used that in the Talk days. Think most requesting this is for the Android app, though. You can't use that to search through SMS. I can because I still use SMS Backup+ to back them up to Gmail.

  • Guest

    Google+ chat is changed too!

  • Android Developer

    Is it also possible to send files?

  • Mskina

    Chrome extension. Still not the same height

    • nxtiak

      They're height adjustable.

      • Mskina

        So what, can't they do it the same height from the beginning?

        • nxtiak

          If I have the main screen thin and tall, no I don't want a new chat box to open up tall and thin.
          I'm happy the way it is.

          • Mskina

            It was always the same height until a few updates ago, so calm down and remember:
            They're height adjustable

          • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

            Agreed. Maybe I want my whole friends list on screen but I don't need a half screen tall chat box.

    • Zak Taccardi

      Conversations and the main window are different heights. The main window is taller so there's an obvious visual indicator that its the main window - and not a conversation.

      this is a good thing - it lets you easily tell the difference.

  • http://www.twitter.com/b_boogey_xl b_boogey_xl

    This reminds me of the iOS version of Hangouts. Every version of Hangouts is similar to each other except for the Android version… great.

    • Zak Taccardi

      it will come to the android version. just be patient.

  • Lupe Fiasco

    Hmm, I expect a redesign of sorts or Unity coming soon I hope. Maybe it's just me but I prefer everything to be same on each Platform. Meaning, Round Profile Pics come to In Chat menu on both App and Web as well as Green Online Indicator dot coming to the App soon also.

  • http://byazrov.ru/ RussianPhotographer

    who uses hangouts? everyone is on whatsapp or viber. why google is never tired of looking at the asses of leaders?

    • Indianajonze

      i have tons of friends using hangouts...

    • xnadax

      Just because you and your friends doesn't use Hangouts it doesn't mean that no one else does. I do almost all my instant messaging on Hangouts.

    • ainen

      Me and all of my friends use Hangouts. Even my parents use it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

      I know no one that uses either whatsapp or viber. Just because those are what you and your group of friends use does not mean others use it.

    • Andri Agassi

      I use (from most to least) LINE, Whatsapp, BBM and Hangouts. I have different contacts who use different chat app. So I use them all.

  • Sahil Chaturvedi

    How do YOU use Hangouts on desktop:

    -Chrome extension?

    • xnadax

      In my case, whichever I happen to have open, basically.

    • http://oldsaltycrow.com/ Soi_SixShooter

      Chrome Extension is really nice. This way you don't have to stay on a Google Brand page.

  • patrick

    That's nice. now about that GV with MMS integration into Hangouts? Can we have that on the 15th?

  • bunnybash

    How do I call contacts phones from the new hangouts? I used to be able to in the old Gchat. hmm don't take away my free phone calls to the USA!!!

    edit: I found it... it's a little phone drawn beside the contacts name when you use the search for contacts feature. A little convoluted, but it's there!

  • Alphajoe

    The discussion below this article shows Google's / Hangout's problem quite well:

    If you need to think about the way Hangouts handles contacts as much as people do here, no one outside the geek world will like to use it.

  • Ellimist

    Question: Is there a way to sort between online/offline people or should I just continue using the old one?

  • Hangouts sucks

    WOW! The ability to see whether your contacts are offline or not. Great work, Google. Hangouts, leaving the competition light years AHEAD.

    • xnadax

      The online indicator in Hangouts is not something new, so your sarcasm is not needed. It was there before, they just changed how it looks.

      • Guest

        He was being ironic.

        • xnadax

          Yes, I got that (but I called it sarcastic). Read my reply again and maybe you will understand.

        • jack

          btw use google and look up ironic ^^ that has 0 irony so I doubt he was being "ironic"

  • Francesco Scarpa

    Just compare hangout on iOS vs android

  • Mathsiel

    In my Gmail, the old version shows a lot of contacts available, but when I change to the new one, only a few is showed.
    I'll stick with old version

  • USiT


  • Zak Taccardi

    I wish I could have the hangout window docked (attached) to the taskbar in Windows, but when I click on another non-hangouts window, the hangouts window would be obscured.

    Currently, even if you uncheck 'keep hangouts on top of other windows', hangouts still stays on top of them when docked to the taskbar. very annoying in my book.

  • Glen

    They also removed the "Green Robot!" labs extension that would display a tiny Android if the user was available on their phone. However, it looks like they moved this to your personal options (downward triangle next to your avatar). Essentially, now *you* get to choose what your friends see instead of *them* getting to choose.

  • Sergio Avalos

    Is it only me or do you find this confusing too? Displaying the green dot together with the last message in bolded font makes it confusing to me. It looks like an unread message

  • Constantine G

    So, is it normal to see a bunch of irrelevant and never-seen-before names and profiles when I now search in the Hangouts search box?

  • alhams

    In my phone hangouts app all contacts in my friend list are online even if they are not,

    so I don't know really if they are online or not. I checked my brother's phone when it was closed but he still appear of line in my friend list!!

    and in the web version it doesn't show me my friend is off line!!

  • Hailey

    Why don't they allow you to put statuses on hangouts like you could on the old gchat? The ones where you can say things? They should allow you to do that. Also, why can't you put yourself as busy so that people don't chat you or put yourself as invisible? And why do they make it so difficult to add other people to chat? I never know if I have successfully invited someone. The emoticons are awesome though! That is the only reason I don't go back to old chat.