According to Florian Kiersch (who has uncovered many in-progress Google projects including Google Stars), Google is testing a new Hangouts experience for now codenamed Ultra Violet.

Kiersch says (and shows) that Ultra Violet will present significant interface changes for Hangouts, including a new Chrome extension that would introduce a floating, Chat Heads-style icon on the desktop, which users could move around freely.


Once the circle is clicked, Kiersch says, the Hangouts welcome screen would appear to introduce users to the new experience. We can also see from Kiersch's images that new ongoing Hangouts conversations would spawn new floating buttons with familiar profile images.


For now, the new Hangouts experience isn't quite ready for public consumption - it relies on experimental extension APIs in Chrome's developer channel, and still - predictably - has some bugs to work out.

Details on its functionality are also sparse. There's no word on whether the new extension would be more functionally powerful than the current extension (for example, if it would sync SMS), or whether this floating experience would come to Android, but it appears that the new experience is still in its early stages. Here's hoping we hear something official soon.

Source: Caschys Blog

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.

  • rmkilc

    But does it sync my SMS/MMS messages?

    • Exikle

      This is the only thing I'm really looking for hangouts to dev

      • rmkilc

        Yep. We live in a multi device world. SMS and MMS are not tailored for multiple devices. The real solution is for SMS/MMS to go away completely. But that will take years. Until then, we have all been wanting Hangouts to sync them across devices! Looks like Apple will beat Google to it with iOS 8.

        • Brett Besa

          None of my friends use hangouts so I just want to not have to put my tablet down every time I get a text.

          • http://www.dljordaneku.com/ Darrell Jordan

            Verizon Wireless has an Android app for their SMS/MMS that I can use from my tablet and web. So, it's not impossible but you have to have something that will be able to read the messages as they come into the phone. With that said, Hangouts would be better if everyone could use it instead. :)

          • Daniel

            I use Motorola Connect on desktop for SMS, but it sure would be nice for everything to be synced in one app for all devices.

          • Mark Ryan

            Get on that... I got all of my friends, family, and co-workers to use hangouts, and they all love it now.

        • deltatux

          You do realize that there are markets where data is so expensive and text messaging so cheap like Canada) that there are no real reasons to use these messaging apps over SMS unless you're sending photos or in a group chat. I mainly text still

          • Gustavo Parrado

            you do realize that most of the world is the opposite and data is cheaper than SMS?

          • michyprima

            Cheaper? Most plans in US and UK have unlimited texts. My plan does (I'm italian). 400min / unlimited texts / 3gb for 7€/mo. My data is quite cheap, but you can't beat unlimited :) also my carrier will cut Internet access if I end my data, so texts could be useful.

          • Gustavo Parrado

            you hit the spot right there! first world is not the only target for android

          • michyprima

            But it's the main target.
            No offence of course.

            Where are you from?

          • Gustavo Parrado

            Targeting the first world is Apple's vision of business, android is more versatile and that's why china, africa, India, etc are full of android phones.
            Motorola has seen it's biggest sales selling a cheap phone, even android's worst market share is in US, barely going over 50% at the best times.

            I'm from Colombia, in southAmerica. I pay US$20 for 2GB of data, but I have to pay US$0.10 for each SMS.
            The mobile dynamic is different in many parts of the world, refusing to implement a good idea just based on the needs (or lack of them) of only the richest countries is not how a muti-national company as Google should work.

          • michyprima

            Damn, those prices hurts.
            Our data only plans starts as low as 4/5€ for 3gb.
            It's sad you must pay that much for something so essential as internet access. I hope things will change soon for you. Do you get at least a decent coverage?

            I think you misunderstood my point btw. I never said this isn't a good idea, or that they should refuse to implement it.

          • Gustavo Parrado

            we get 4G almost everywhere, but that is indeed a high price, for both things.

            now "there are no real reasons to use these messaging apps over SMS" implies that you get SMS for free, something not everyone can take for granted.

    • frafri

      but, will it blend?

    • Brett Besa

      Oh, you mean the one feature that users have been requesting since the beginning?

      nah man... nah.

      • ddpacino

        This simply will NEVER happen.

        • rmkilc

          Why not?

          • ddpacino

            For one, typical SMS/MMS messages do not transmit over Google's network. So coming up with a method of storing and syncing those messages onto their servers will probably be followed by some class action lawsuit. The renowned iMessage system doesn't even do that.

            NOW, if we're talking about Google Voice users, then I can see it happening.

          • rmkilc

            iOS 8 is adding this feature to iMessage. So, wanna try again?

          • ddpacino

            Link to that? Haven't heard that.

          • rmkilc
          • ddpacino

            Thanks, but this part makes me wonder about the implementation used...

            "[...] as long as iPad and Mac customers also have an iPhone anywhere in the room or the vicinity[...] "

            So the messages most likely aren't syncing to Apple's servers, but being sent over Bluetooth to other devices. There was also a mention of "pairing" earlier in the article.

          • rmkilc

            Yeah, I would hope it would work as long as the iPhone is connected to the internet, not just within the same room. For example, you accidentally leave your iPhone at home. Throughout the day, you can send and receive text messages from your Mac and iPad (until the iPhone's battery dies of course). If Hangouts could do this...

          • ddpacino

            Right, same scenario I was thinking of. However, as a GV user, I'm used to getting my SMS messages anywhere, with no dependence my phone. It's been a lifesaver when I've lost phones. I can still call and text through computers w/o people knowing anything's changed on my end.

            Although not ideal, it would be a step in the right direction for most. Something's better than nothing.

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

            If SMS on Mac works using the new "Continuity" features, it definitely does not work this way. But we'll know for certain soon enough I suppose.

          • phi

            MightyText can do it, no reason why Google couldn't.

          • ddpacino

            I know one reason: The EU, lol. They've been causing problems for Google over the stupidest sh-t.

          • Guest

            I know exactly the reason why Google couldn't.

            Because of what you did, phi. Because of what you did.

          • Taylor

            I imagine they could get it to work in a similar way that it works with Wear.

        • OliverRC

          So SMS Backup+ ?

      • rmkilc

        A HUGE side benefit from this would be cloud backup for your SMS/MMS messages. You get a new phone or wipe your current phone, login to hangouts, and your entire history is there.

        • Mayoo

          It is currently the one and only thing that doesn't sync when switching devices (that is mostly important). I am amazed Google hasn't sorted that functionality out yet. But again, IOS version has more features ... so why the f*ck not.

    • http://adeadhorsethatstillneedsbeating.blogspot.com/ Wes

      MightyText - [http://mightytext.net/] check it out. May not be all your SMS/MMS & instant messages in one place, but comes pretty close. Original developers are ex-googlers and it has been around for a few years now.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

    The desktop version is fine. Fix the awful Android app.

    • skitchbeatz

      Desktop version isn't quite fine. No copy & paste for images? It's 2014.

    • Shining Wing

      Care to explain? I think it's an alright app.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

        The Hangouts app breaks every Android app convention. It's so crazy it's hard to even describe. Like there is a nav drawer, but the nav drawer is the conversation list, and it's also the top-level home screen of the app. There are two "lists of people"—the conversation list and the people list.

        Instant messaging is supposed to be about people, but Hangouts makes it about "conversations." What should be a friends list is really a conversation list, and no normal person ever understands that.

        It's extremely easy to swipe away a conversation and "close" your friend. Then they are lost in the big scary list of contacts. You can have a single person listed multiple times in the conversation list, you can "archive" chats...it's all completely ridiculous and every normal person I show hangouts to can't wrap their head around it because of how complex it is.

        Normal people are never sure where a contact is at any given time or what the difference is between the conversation list and contact list. They have no idea if they are IMing or SMSing someone, and they accidentally close conversations all the time.

        Remember Google talk where you just tapped on a contact and started typing? Go back to that with the option to add people to a group chat. Handle SMS/IM automatically based on the person you are texting.

        I guess a lot of these problems are on both the desktop and Android app, but I feel it a lot more on the Android app. Texting is supposed to be easy and Hangouts has turned it into a mess.

        • Fatty Bunter

          I hope Google agrees with this because you 100% nailed the problem.

        • Gerjannn

          You just have won the Hangouts internet. This is exactly what's wrong. Good thing the whole app will be overhauled with Android L design and stuff, hope they fix all this!

          • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

            Unfortunately, bringing the app into line with Google's new guidelines doesn't promise any functional changes, so I wouldn't count on them completely re-tooling the app's interface flow just yet. But we'll see.

        • http://adeadhorsethatstillneedsbeating.blogspot.com/ Wes

          I don't see how Hangouts is that hard to use, hit the + to start a new convo, type the name or number to search your contact and start typing. You can also tap a contact's image to start a convo. It says right in the chat whether you are using SMS or Hangouts. I transitioned from G Talk to Hangouts effortlessly, there was no 'Oh how the heck do I do this' moment.

          Not arguing that it isn't in line with Google's other products, but right now none of them match. Google+'s app is different compared to Gmail which is different compared to Google Search/Now which is different compared to Hangouts which is different compared to Chrome.

        • duse

          You said it perfectly. Google fails so hard at such basic things it's really amazing. A bunch of engineers just running around with absolutely no clue about user interface, intuitiveness, or proper product management. Hangouts still doesn't even have search!

        • Cris de Oliveira

          You should give to them this feedback. (y)

        • jayesh m

          What ron said on so many levels. Hangouts despite its use case, is a
          fucking mess. Just need to see how iMessage or whatsapp or any other
          service is implemented, to realize how bad a mess hangouts is.

        • http://myhumblecorner.wordpress.com/ Jacob Godserv

          Actually, I rather enjoy the conversations system. It makes it so much easier to manage group chats, and keep the main screen very clean and specific to only the conversations I'm having (instead of trying to find some useful sort for the contact list).

          It's really only a pain because it's new.

    • bobEveryman

      Android version is fine. Fix the awful desktop app.

      • Miguel Ripoll

        Let's make this bigger. Make Hangouts a real app.

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          Why? Works fine as a Chrome app, and it's more versatile that way. I don't need more applications installed individually on my computer. Besides, this way any time I log into Chrome anywhere it's right there within moments.

          • Justin W

            I think it's fine as a stand-alone Chrome App, but I dislike it's set up. I want it to be a webpage of it's own where I can store my on-going calls, not a completely separate window that just clutters up my taskbar when it's really not a separate app, but just a Chrome Extension.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Well then, that would be opening it within Gmail or Google+. Seems silly to waste its own entire page on when it's just a very small messenger that's tied into other services. I install the Chrome App because I don't want to have to go to a web page to get to it. Otherwise I'd just use it in one of those two tabs.

          • Justin W

            Wait, you can use video calling in G+?

            Edit: Nope, still opens a random window. That's my main gripe with it. I can live with it (and have to), but I hate that it requires a separate window. Even when others call me with Hangouts, it opens another window.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            I much prefer that. Getting a video conversation lost in tabs is a pain. It's a dedicated, special task from web browsing. Makes a lot more sense to break it out.

          • Justin W

            I suppose if that's what it's used for then yes. I've used it more so as a VoIP replacement (eff skype and it's automatic attenuation that can't be fixed without reghacks on W8.1). At this point, I wish they'd just have the option of both since there are separate preferences for everyone. Can't be that hard since it's already a Chrome app.

          • Miguel Ripoll

            It's the reason that Skype with its stupid ads is more famous than Hangouts.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Pretty sure Skype's many-year lead and massively higher-value advertising has more to do with it.

        • BoFiS

          Agreed, though that's already how I've been using it since I first got a beta invite to gmail....in Pidgin :-D

    • Tim McCarthy

      The desktop version isn't even remotely fine. It glitches horribly on multiple monitors, and often fails to connect after I wake my computer from sleep unless I restart Chrome. This is across multiple computers and platforms.

      • tymalo

        How does it glitch on multiple monitors? I use it daily and haven't run into any issues

        • Tim McCarthy

          If I move any of the windows to my second monitor, some of them will black out (e.g. http://i.imgur.com/96CpHN8.png) and not be visible until I return them to my main monitor. I've experienced this on a Macbook Pro, a Mac Pro, and a Windows 8.1 desktop PC.

        • jyrkesh

          I'm not sure what he's referring to, but I have a major multi-monitor annoyance with the extension. I've set my Taskbar such that all apps appear on the main monitor and apps on the side monitors only have apps on their taskbar which exist on that monitor.

          Unfortunately, Hangouts refuses to be recognized as existing on a secondary monitor, so it can only be pulled up from the taskbar on the main monitor. Since I keep all messaging on the side, this is really, really annoying.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            That's because Windows doesn't see them as, well, windows.

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        I'm not sure what you mean about glitching horribly on multiple monitors. I have multiple monitors and zero issues with it. Across multiple computers.

        • Tim McCarthy


          A screenshot of what happens when I try to put a chat window on my second monitor. The window blanks out until I return it to my main monitor. Happens on OS X and Windows, on laptops and desktops.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            How odd. Just moved mine to my secondary monitor and continued my conversation without issue. Windows 8.1.

          • Tim McCarthy

            Do you keep your chat windows docked together or separate? It happens less when they're separate, but it still happens.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman


          • ddpacino

            Never have I once experienced this issue, and I've used Hangouts from the start.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

          Same here. 5 monitors, no problems.

          • tymalo

            Whats your setup?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

            2 on top, 3 on the bottom, and DDMM (http://ddmm.sourceforge.net/) as a virtual mouse barrier between the monitor rows so I can still easily hit tabs and menus and stuff.

            For the past few years had a policy of "never throw out a monitor, just move stuff around" when I upgrade, so I've slowly been collecting LCDs and now I'm up to 5. Some of them are getting pretty old and it's a mix of square and widescreen monitors so I'm thinking of replacing everything with new 27-inch monitors soon. =D

            Of course then I'm going to ask "what if I didn't throw these old ones out and used 10 monitors?"

          • rmkilc

            Photo or it didn't happen. :)

          • Justin W

            27" Monitors are awesome, especially with 3 or more. Also, no issues with the program itself (I hate the desktop version's design, but it functions as it was designed to).

          • alexcue

            Holy freaking hell, thank you for introducing me to DDMM. I have multiple monitors and you just made my day.

    • iamnotkurtcobain

      The Android Hangouts app is one of the worst apps Google has ever released...
      SLOW, SLUGGISH, UGLY and UNRESPONSIVE even on modern smartphones...

      • rmkilc

        How so? I think it's one of the better apps by Google. It's fast, HOLO, and works well.

    • Vijay Gopal Marupudi

      Desktop version is not fine for people using any other browsers. Need a native Windows application instead of a web app..

  • AJH

    Would love to see this in both the desktop and Android versions!

  • Shining Wing

    I don't really feel that such a thing is necessary on desktop, since you have multiple windows you can minimize. This would be much better if it was on Android instead.

  • http://eichefam.net/ Paul

    I just want chat heads on the Hangouts Android app.

  • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

    Really? This is what they're working on? Shouldn't they be working on Google Voice integration and cross-platform feature parity?

    • Jason E Perkins

      Why not both?

    • NorCalAngler

      I'm pretty sure they are capable of working on multiple projects at a time. *mind, blown*

  • http://www.martinkem.com Martens Nkem

    This would have been great if people actually used google hangouts,

  • Kagron

    Quite honestly I just want SMS/MMS integration on the desktop version and chatheads on the android version. Then I'd be satisfied.

  • Jeffrey Tarman

    Screw this, integrate Google Voice into Hangouts for Android users. It's the middle of August & still nothing except love for iOS users.

    • duse

      Just give up and port out, I plan to soon. The GV app has gotten so bad lately, Google has zero respect for its users.

  • cy_n_ic

    If hangouts went back to gtalk i would be so happy

    • rmkilc

      How so? Hangouts is actually usable. Google Talk was horrible. It didn't sync read status. It didn't sync sent messages. When you are at your computer, your phone would still buzz with notifications. It was completely useless for people who use more than one device.

      • pfmiller

        No apps supported synchronizing of notifications before Hangouts. Now that Android supports it it would be trivial for Talk to include it ad well.

        That said, I hated the original Hangouts release but they've fixed a lot of problems. At this point I wouldn't want to go back to Talk.

  • fjfjd

    Apk please

    • CoreRooted

      APK... for a chrome extension... that isn't released... Ummmm, right.

    • Glenn

      Did you actually read the article??

      • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

        The post only pertains to the Chrome extension, and we don't distribute unreleased software regardless of platform.

        • CoreRooted

          LOL... Sure ya did... ;)

  • Vinícius Philot

    so we finally have whatsapp with GIFs? This would be a total Win

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Google voice comments coming in 3....2...1....

  • Dr. Giygas Devereaux

    Which is more annoying: Google ignoring Google Voice, or the people complaining about Google ignoring Google Voice? I can't answer that question anymore.

    • pfmiller

      The people complaining, hands down.

  • BoFiS

    That's stupid, I'd much rather have tabbed chats (like in Pidgin) than floating heads on my desktop...no thank you!

  • Brad

    Downside is: I'll want to use this - but not be signed in at work... I don't want my work googles interfering with my home googles... so I'm stuck using incognito mode and not signing in.

    • Alex S

      You can sign into multiple google accounts in chrome. Settings->Users->Add new User

      • Brad

        but my google searches will still mix

        • Alex S

          You use it in two seperate browser windows. The little head in the top right corner allows you to launch a new chrome window with the selected user.

          • Brad


          • Brad

            thanks for this tip... it's more convenient for sure. Hello extensions at work!

  • NM

    Also coming soon to iOS.

  • yieldway17

    Lost count of the times Google's redesigns with its messaging apps.

  • Guess Who

    Speakeaking about "undiscovered" google updates:
    - Did some noticed this?

    Almost, "Living in a Material World"?

  • http://usamaisawake.wordpress.com usamaisawake

    I'd rather they make a native client for each platform.

  • iMessage

    Needs to be based on phone number. All this email crap is stupid.

    • CoreRooted

      I have 3 phone numbers. I have no desire to have to juggle around 3 different sets of contacts and such just to be able to chat.

  • NF

    Thanks Facebook.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    Oh Chrome, a browser I don't use ... pass.

  • Josh Rahn

    I love the circles on the side of the screen!

  • vd

    Chrome sucks an Hangouts sucks. Putting them together is a great idea....to suck.

  • someone755

    Sadly, I do not use/like Chrome, so unless if it's a standalone app/program or something that runs with Firefox, count me out.