That Hangouts update from yesterday has one more trick up its sleeve, and it's an interesting one. Google has opted to change the behavior when you tap on a contact photo so it no longer tosses you to Google+, but opens a contact card like most other areas of the system.

2014-06-05 14.29.09

It really didn't make a ton of sense to have the photo open the Google+ profile. Hangouts is a communication method, so seeing all a person's contact info seems reasonable. You can still get to the Google+ profile for most contacts by going to the web tab in the contact card, though.

Be aware, you won't actually get any popup for users who are only connected to you through Hangouts (i.e. not in your address book). This is a little counterintuitive, as the app just sits there due to the lack of a contact card. In this instance it might be nice to open the G+ profile just so it does something. At any rate, this makes the Hangouts app feel a bit more distinct from all the Google+ stuff.

[Thanks, Eric]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • JPB

    I think this is hopeful in that it makes it easier to integrate Hangouts as a dialing app. Google Voice integration coming?

  • gsDroid

    Good, unlinking it from G+ is an improvement.

    • pravs

      even with the last update it requires G+ to send photos..so nothing really changes other than the contact pop up :(

      Google can really make this a stand alone app with just google login

      • Kyle Salewski

        Google+ IS Google. You just get a profile now when you sign up for google. Same way you get an email address when you signup for facebook. Doesn't mean you need to use it for anything.

        • AnonGuy

          No, Google+ isn't Google. It's Facebook 2.0. I don't drink Kool-Aid.

        • didibus

          No it's not the same as a Google Account. It's an extra component that you must explicitly activate. Some of Google's functionality requires you that you activate it, and activating it forces you to have a profile and all.

          So having a Google Account isn't enough to use all of Google's products, you need to activate the Google+ component if you want to be able to do all the things.

          I believe this is dumb, most thing aren't related to Google+, like Hangouts, which could just as easily have been made to only require a Google Account. So it's obviously just a scheme to encourage people to activate Google+.

          • DopeJam

            True. I wish I could use hangout completely without g+ and all this circles cr*p. I had my pghotos nicly on picasa web and now everything is loaded with every photo I send over hangouts as new album. G+ is a mess and need to stay away from hangouts, photos and youtube. Or even better, it should just disappear

        • http://www.smsnetwork.org/ Mikael Jakobsson

          and if them has like Google Calender, Gmail, Youtube etc so has them alredy one account but am totaly agree with you if somebody dont wanna post anything at G+ just skip it :)

      • Aegis

        Yeah, but just because some people are bothered about G+ integration doesn't mean they should scrap superior functionality.

        Having G+ handle the photos is great, in my opinion. I can browse the complete image history of a hangouts that I'm part of directly from the browser or my phone. That's cool.

        As opposed to just losing the photos or having them stuck in a chat log. It's much easier to have them all in a gallery for browsing and re-sharing.

        • didibus

          The problem I have is: Why are photos tied to G+ to begin with? It's just clunky, Photos should be it's own thing, and G+ could easily let you share photos from Photos, but why make it a Google+ only thing?

      • Sruly J

        In the version a few updates ago, g+ wasn't required when sharing photos from gallery, so when I noticed that g+ was needed in the next update, I went back. But then I wanted a certain feature :(
        Hopefully they'll remove the requirement...eventually

  • Zak Taccardi

    YES!!! now let people sign up for hangouts without Google+ (but if they sign up for Google+ later, merge all hangouts data with Google+)

    • Adrian Meredith

      considering theres no such thing as a google+ login thats not possible. Its just a google account

      • brkshr

        Hangouts on iOS requires a Google+ profile. Not just a gmail account.

    • Marcel Soika

      They can sign up wihtout an Google+ account. Upgrade to a Google+ account is only needed for pictures, because of the synchonisation between different devices.

      • brkshr

        Not on iOS. It requires a G+ profile.

  • krazyfrog

    More things should unlink from Google+. Like the rest of the Internet where it is used.

    • Phil Oakley

      I wouldn't be surprised if an I/O announcement is that G+ Photos is moving to Drive, or being spun off into it's own product. Same with Locations for Maps.

      I love Google+, it's fantastic platform, but having these other apps bundled into it makes no sense really. All it needs is an intent to say 'share this photo on Google+' or whatever.

      • http://Twitter.com/eggoespada EggoEspada

        I really hope the spin Google Photos off. Maybe "absorb" Snapseed into GPhotos while they're at it.

        • Björn Brorsson

          Try editing a picture with Photos. It's pretty much Snapseed. :)

          • nxtiak

            And the built in gallery app from the latest Google Camera app does all the same thing too. ugh.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            What built-in gallery app? When you hit Edit in Google Camera it asks you if you want to use Photos, Gallery (old-school, dead on newer phones), or SnapSeed, or presumably others. Its default, if you didn't have the others, would be Photos, so you ARE using the Photos app's SnapSeed-acquired functions.

          • nxtiak

            Like you said, Gallery is old school but that's what Google Camera still has. Photos is G+. They both have same/different styles of "Instagram filters" and editing functions.
            Nexus 5 here. Stock. Photos (G+) is NOT the default. It's the Gallery app from the Camera App/Google Camera.

          • nxtiak

            Just tested, I cleared all my defaults, when I take a photo with latest update of Google Camera, it edits inside the Gallery app.
            Have to manually go to Photos (G+) to edit in that. Here's a screenshot showing both editing a photo

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Mine, upon hitting the Edit button from a photo in the Google Camera app, asks me which app I wish to use. Every time. No clue why yours is any different. One of the options is "Photo Editor" though, which I think is what you're getting. Presumably has the same roots as Gallery.

          • Ian Santopietro

            Same here, although I did disable Gallery in settings.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            I haven't disabled mine. Mainly because, weirdly, the Photos app was terrible at manually uploading to albums in Google+. I had to use Gallery to share TO it to get intelligent options. I don't recall if they've fixed that. I think it's at least better.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Also on Nexus 5, also stock. You have Gallery because it was included in the Nexus 5 from the beginning. As far as I'm aware it is NOT a component of the Google Camera app as the Gallery hasn't existed on any stock Android device (such as GPE) since the Nexus 5. They all have ONLY the Photos app. Gallery was included with the 5 because the 5 came out before they were ready to make Photos the default.

            Just checked. There IS something called "Photo Editor" which has the same icon as the old Gallery app. I think that's what you're seeing and assuming is the actual Gallery app. Probably has the same roots.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Also on Nexus 5, also stock. You have Gallery because it was included in the Nexus 5 from the beginning. As far as I'm aware it is NOT a component of the Google Camera app as the Gallery hasn't existed on any stock Android device (such as GPE) since the Nexus 5. They all have ONLY the Photos app. Gallery was included with the 5 because the 5 came out before they were ready to make Photos the default.

      • laxjosh

        Yeah, agree with tossing it into Drive.

        I love Google, but some of their decisions make me bang my head. Completely understand the desire to get into social media, build profiles and better advertising capabilities, but I never liked it.

        Regressing, Google Drive should have been separate from Google Docs. Have Docs be the programs, and make Drive your internet C drive. Have a Photos folder, where all pictures taken with your Android drive are uploaded to. Have a Documents folder, where all of your Google Docs creations are uploaded to. Have a Music folder, where all of your purchased and saved music from Google Music is uploaded to. Have a Videos folder for any Play TV and Movies episodes and moves purchased, any videos uploaded, favorited or marked for viewing later on YouTube. A Bookshelf folder for any e-books or magazines purchased or subscribed to.

        All of that stuff is obviously in addition to anything that the user uploads on their own, and is available in each of the respective apps. But, it should serve as the central repository for everything that you own, created, or tagged in other Google services.

      • http://www.smsnetwork.org/ Mikael Jakobsson

        i use G+ daily, and i dont see any resone to have one account for echo service for get it to work. If them remove G+ frome Hangout them just include singel account for Hangout instent its become like the old days. And why wanna have like 20-30 diffrens Google account for diffrens service, one for Gmail one for calender, one for youtube, one for Analystic etc. for me its must bettre just have one singel acc.

        • Phil Oakley

          What? That's not what I'm saying at all.

          You'd never need 20-30 different accounts for every Google service. Just one account, but separate apps. So Photos as a separate app or rolled into Drive, Locations rolled into Maps etc.

    • Blue Sun

      I would love to see the Google Latitude elements ported back to Google maps.

  • http://www.corbindavenport.com/ Corbin Davenport


    • matt30

      So what you're telling me is you want the ability to leave a voice message with out the Hassel of calling and leaving a . . . voice message. Yeah . . .

      • http://twitter.com/Rodrigost23 Rodrigo Tavares

        Yeah, voice messages can be pretty expensive in some countries, but I think he meant Google Voice.

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        Google Voice. Not "voice." Very different need.

      • NinoBr0wn

        Where did you see anything said about a voice message?

    • BigTimmay
      • Josh Flowers

        quite possibly one of the funniest gif's i've seen---apart from the "surprise, mother f*ker" one with several variations.

        • WestFiasco

          Lol, it was totally unexpected.

      • Blue Sun

        The most interesting part about this gif is how differently it behaves in IE vs. Chrome. Personally I prefer the Chrome behavior.

      • Paola

        This gift is not funny in any way.

  • Lexcyn

    But Hangouts will still default to the G+ profile photo over the one stored in the People/contacts app... which is ridiculous.

    Has there been any work around for this yet? I like using my Facebook contact photos for my contacts, but with Hangouts I get blank heads.

    • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

      It does? I haven't come across this issue. I use Haxsync and all photos use that FB photo by default.

      • Lexcyn

        Really? I use Haxsync as well and it defaults to the G+ photos over the Haxsync ones. This was after the last major Hangouts update that combined SMS + Hangout messages.

        • Lexcyn

          Never mind ... if you disable merged conversations it works as intended, but if you merge hangouts + sms, you get the G+ photos.

          • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

            Oh okay, that's why. I turned off the merge cause I don't really use Hangouts IM.

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          Wait, Haxsync still works for you? I thought it was dead.

          • Lexcyn

            Yes they started up again and it still works great.

      • sdcoiner76

        My photos in hangouts have always defaulted to the G+ profile pic.

    • turdbogls

      I have a couple people on hangouts that have a blank G+ photo...but it still shows the contact image I assigned to them

  • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

    God thank you! I HATED that they took that away. I, personally, loved the Quick Contacts card. Was one of the worst decisions to take it away.

  • Simon Belmont

    Good. Now just unlink the G+ photos to contacts that I already have pictures for.

    For some reason, it pulls that up, or worse, a blank avatar, for my contacts instead of the picture I have for them. Hangouts is the worst offender and contact pictures in the 2.1 version of it often don't show up in the notification pull-down anymore (again, just that gray generic contact picture).

    • nxtiak

      I agree. I have people who don't use G+ and their contacts come up blank, but I have a regular contact picture for them. ugh.

  • nxtiak


  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Oh, I thought the article meant Hangouts breaking up with G+ requirement and have it like on iMessage - a number and your email is all that's needed. Oh well..

    • Animalismus

      Adding someone by email instead of just their name seems so silly. Everyone should have a Google+ account, so Google could completedly destroy email addresses and phone numbers. ;-)

    • Marcel Soika

      and an Apple account..... :-/

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Exactly - just like with Google. Having a gmail inbox means you already have a Google account. Why not untie hangouts from Google+ completely?

  • Guest

    even with the last update it requires G+ to send photos..so nothing really changes other than the contact pop up :( Google can really make this a stand alone app with just google login

    • Animalismus

      Well, it's stores the photos in G+ photos. (It has to store them somewhere, as Hangouts is a cloud messenger). So they first would have to decouple Photos from G+, but Im not sure if that's such an easy task. BTW what's the problem with having a G+ account? For example does Facebook offer anonymous accounts that let you play games etc. but not create a profile? One major point with G+ is that it makes managing contacts easier. E.g. I don't have to play with silly email addresses in order to share photos etc.

      • AnonGuy

        The contact example you used is terrible. Circles were good in theory, but terrible in practice. They're exhausting to manage and keep up to date. We have Groups in traditional contact managers for that stuff, anyways...
        The problem with Google+ is that it also stores the images on Google+ persistently so it basically forces you to go to Google+ (or use the Google+ App - Photos is not an app... it's a link into the Google+ app) to delete them.
        Facebook Messenger does not persistently store images you send to someone in Facebook for them to see forever unless you manually go there and delete them. It's like the Anti-Snapchat. Some of us have much better things to worry about, so we avoid it.
        Additionally, Google+ is just Google's version of Facebook, and if I have one Facebook, I don't need another one.

    • Adrian Meredith

      no it doesn't... at least on kitkat it brings up the standard file selector which you can send photos from anywhere

      • AnonGuy

        You don't understand what he's saying in your endless quest to play defender.
        Google Hangouts will not let you send a picture to someone in a Hangout without a Public Google+ Profile active on your account. It also will not allow you to do a Group Hangout, nor will it allow you to change your profile picture.

  • Brett Besa

    I actually like and use G+, but this always bothered me and I'm glad to see it get fixed.

  • D4niel

    Hallelujah! Not having the contact card accessible there has frustrated me a number of times. I've never found it helpful to have the G+ profile accessible from there.

  • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

    People asking Google things like "let people sign up for hangouts without Google+" are like these Bob people from Youtube that does not understand that Hangouts is a Google product and so, obviously, it requires a Google account.... and G+ IS the Google account.
    I don't know how it is so hard to understand that.

    • miri

      Maybe because the ID system and the social stream have the same name even if they can work somewhat independently. Going by the I/O schedule, Google may be renaming G+'s ID system as just Google ID.

    • xnadax

      Well, just having a Google account is not enough. Apparently you have to create a G+ profile too, to be able to use Hangouts, and I guess people don't want that.

    • brkshr

      Your GMail address is usually considered your Google account.

      • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

        Have you tried creating a Gmail nowadays? You're basically creating a G+ account.

        • brkshr

          Wow! Just tried. You would be correct! It's been a year or so since I created one for someone.

          edit: I guess any argument for separation of Hangouts & Google+ is useless now.

          • didibus

            Why would it be useless, you still have a lot of accounts out there in the wild that are not Google+ accounts, because they were created a while ago and people never bothered activating G+ on them.

            You can also make the argument that there is multiple set of contacts on your account, those for gmail, and those for g+, and there's the fact that photos are accessible through G+, etc.

            So there's still a lot of ways to separate them, even if signing up for a google account gives you both.

        • didibus

          Are you saying that, on the create account you have to enter your G+ profile info, or it won't let you have a gmail?

        • http://www.smsnetwork.org/ Mikael Jakobsson

          is the same if them has a Youtube account them has a basically creating a G+ account thire to Calender etc dosent matter one singel service frome Google and you have a G+ account. Google Analystic, is so hard not have a G+ account :)

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

      People also miss the fact that before Google+, you had to find the profile section and enter your information to truly set up your Google profile… which most didn't do. Google+ gives more purpose to setting up your Google profile (helps to be discovered). Don't believe me? Remember how many people actually had pictures attached to their account before? Not many, if any at all. Today (thanks to Google+) I see more pictures attached to profiles than ever before.

    • didibus

      It's hard to understand because you can have a Google Account, yet not be allowed to use Hangouts.

      It gets even more confusing because you have contacts in your google account, and another set of contacts in your google+ account.

      And because you have Google Open ID sign in, and Google+ sign on.

      I'm probably forgetting other stuff.

  • Francesco Lorenzet

    they will do the same with google foto i guarantee it

    • Marcel Soika

      definitly not.

      • Francesco Lorenzet


      • Francesco Lorenzet


  • br_hermon

    Definitely an interesting move. This matches what they did with the G+ app. Remember how it used to have a link to Hangouts? No more... Looks like there is zero shared communication now between the G+ app and Hangouts, as if they were two entirely separate entities.

    What's as equally interesting now is that I still think of Hangouts as the communication system for G+, seeing as how its still tightly integrated on the website / desktop version. To me that kind of disconnect between the website and the apps is a problem.

    My crazy theory... Hangouts was separated from the G+ App. It's already separate from the Gmail App, though in gmail (desktop) you can use hangouts. So... given the recent disconnect in the Hangouts app (contact card instead of G+ profile) it appears as though Google may be focusing on Hangouts more as communication system first and secondly, if at all, a feature of G+. It's possible Hangouts breaks free from G+ (behaves and is independent more like Talk used to be) So now you can use Hangouts in G+, Gmail, Drive, etc. Thoughts?

    • Chemiclus

      Hangouts needs to be built directly into Chrome so people know it's there

      • br_hermon

        Interesting idea really, though Google needs Hangouts to be bigger than Chrome. Chrome, Android, iPhone, iPad, everywhere.

  • danifeb

    G+ is a Gamma developing mode service, they have not discovered yet what they want to do with it.

  • http://rootzwiki.com/news Max M.

    Wow what an incredibly misleading headline.

    • Darkbotic


  • Noob

    Finally! No more missing contact photos, or profile photos.

    Nice Google

  • Ian Santopietro

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    #1 Pet peeve about the Hangouts app so far. Now with Voice integration, it would be perfect.

  • Hafiz Shafruddin

    But I like google+

  • Lance Sandino

    I wish it would show the contact picture (Facebook for example) rather than blank

  • CyberPunk

    Oh! Google Hangouts! I really had high hopes when it was just the "Google Babel" rumors. Google could've made a killer service/app. Just call it something else like "Google Message" and let it have:
    1) A better authentication/invite system. Accept the phone number as a verified contact (like whatsapp).
    2) SMS-integration (it's already there, but it still feels awkward under the "hangouts" name).
    3) Voice mail notification and voice-to-text transcripts.
    4) A better, more-welcoming home-screen. Current design is bad bad bad. Prone to accidental swipe-to-delete right on the homescreen! Groups are hard to manage. You swipe one away and then you have to create another one. It's just bad! The app needs a complete redesign IMO.

    • Aaron

      I've been saying this since Hangouts came out. It needs to be redesigned to be user friendly so people will know how to do stuff on it, along with capabilities of sharing long videos, or just a video at all. I always swipe and delete conversations by accident..one reason why I'm not using Hangouts as my primary SMS..stock messages works fine for me. If they find a great way to merge sms/hangouts the only way I could use it is if it would automatically detect another hangout.google user and have it sent via data so we can finally send videos over a choppy 6 second compressed clip. I miss iMessage so much from when I had my iPhone. Seamless and didn't really have a "limit" on quality of length of content sent...hopefully the big G can implement something like without having all the problem iMessage does when switching to a diff OS. I doubt we will be seeing a major redesign soon but who knows... I hope so myself.

  • LittlPussi

    Well this was a waste of what I thought would be a valuable read. Thank you Mr. writer!

  • Kyle Salewski

    Been asking for this for a while now...

  • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

    THANK GOD. I hated this so much. Completely intuitive to open G+.

  • http://MarkLaViolette.com/ Mark LaViolette

    I just want pop-up notifications when receiving text messages.

  • CuriousCursor

    This is how it was in the first hangouts release

  • http://www.drudgereport.com Game On

    If it isn't root or custom rom-related then who cares? Call it what it is. More lame social circles with less valuable information to cloud up cyberspace. Woopie!

  • Alexandre Leites

    what's the problem with Google plus? people seems paranoid about this... it's better than Facebook, I just don't use it coz my stupid friends don't use it. I really want to understand why so much hype in plus when fb is a way more invasive.