Users of Google Voice have long called for the company to pay more attention to the seemingly forgotten service for quite some time. Unfortunately, they may be getting more than they were hoping for. While many people are thrilled to hear Voice will finally support MMS and become a part of Hangouts in early 2014, Google is also planning to close up shop for all 3rd-party apps that relied on the service for free texting and VoIP calling.
Earlier this week at a Google+ event, the company announced several important additions to Hangouts for Android. The updated version 2.0 comes with SMS support as well as location sharing, the ability to display animated GIF files, as well as the previously discovered in a teardown statuses and moods. AndroidPolice covered the rumor on October 7th following my initial Google+ report on October 4th.
The coveted update may take a while to reach you, considering it hasn't even started officially rolling yet.
Google may've said during Wednesday's keynote that it planned to roll out Hangouts to Gmail users gradually, but if you just can't wait to integrate the new messaging service into your e-mail dashboard, there's a way to gain early access. Simply log into Gmail, ensure you've signed into Google Talk (if you're having trouble enabling Talk, try installing the browser plugin), click on the thumbnail associated with your account in the Talk sidebar, and select the "Try the new Hangouts" option.
The new Google Messenger is real! It's not called Babel, or Google Talk, but "Hangouts." It also isn't the unified messenger we've all wanted - maybe it will be someday, but Hangouts is strictly a Google Talk replacement - there's no SMS or Google Voice integration.
What Hangouts does have going for it is that it is really pretty. It supports group messaging, pictures, video chat, and even has read receipts!
Google Talk is one of my favorite parts about Android. If you have other Googly friends, between Android, Gmail, and G+, they are almost always available. In Android 2.3.4, Google Talk got a big upgrade in the form of voice and video chat.
There will be many similarities to the to the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Gmail, which was the subject of Part 1 of this series. So go read about it or risk falling behind the rest of the class.
A minor OTA update is currently rolling out to the Motorola Photon 4G that brings a few bug fixes and one notable feature: Google Talk with Video support. Other than that, it's a pretty bland update:
- Lapdock support
- Enhancements to image appearance when pictures are taken in panorama mode
- Forwarded messages are properly identified as being forwarded
- Improved audio quality with car speakers when connected to a car charger and audio
- Introduction of international roaming 3G UMTS hotspot functionality for a single Wi-Fi enabled
While this update doesn't bring a whole slew of game-changing features, I'm sure it's still a welcome one for Photon owners.
When the new Google Talk with voice and video calling was launched, those of you on T-Mobile who wanted to place calls on 3G quickly found out that it wasn't at all possible. Rather than connecting you to your dog for an afternoon chat, the application stubbornly insisted on only operating through a Wi-Fi connection. At Google I/O 2011, I was able to dig up some more technical details surrounding this limitation, even further upsetting hopeful customers.