There's an update to Hangouts Dialer rolling today to make those Google VoIP calls a little more useful. The dialer's new trick is that it can handle phone call intents from the system. That makes it easier than ever to place calls through Hangouts with your Google Voice number.
Are you eager to communicate your current hung-over status to your entire social circle without having to tell each and everyone of them to stop messaging you? Then you'll be thrilled at the latest update to Google's Hangouts messenger service. Actually, "update" might not be the right word - I suppose "retrofit" is more appropriate. On the Chrome app and the Hangouts portion of Google Plus, you can now set a semi-permanent status that appears to all interested parties.
Update: Even more stuff! Mayur Kamat posted yet another Hangouts for Chrome update, this time showing off the new link to the Hangouts phone dialer. You can see the phone icon on the top ribbon of the main interface, accessible by pressing the green quote icon. From there you can make domestic calls for free, just like on Android, or make international calls if you have available credit. If you don't see it right away, try disabling and then re-enabling the app in Chrome's extension menu.
First there were ponies and pitchforks, and now Hangouts has added more cuteness to the app in the form of animated emojis. The team had teased these easter eggs earlier in a Google+ post, but they remained mum about the way you trigger them.
If you have the latest version of the app, simply typing any of the words below will result in an emoji popping up from the bottom of the screen and either celebrating, laughing, or wishing you happy birthday.
Among the feature additions in the latest Hangouts update is the ability to switch between Google Voice and carrier SMS without diving into the app settings. All you have to do is tap on the "spinner," the toggle in the conversation window that already allowed you to alternate between Hangouts and SMS. Now, provided you have a Voice and carrier number, you'll have two SMS options.
Google just announced its biggest update to the Hangouts Android app in some time, introducing a bevvy of features not seen before on the platform. In terms of utility, the biggest addition is probably confirmed phone numbers: like competing SMS-style message services, this will allow people who know you to search for your Google+/Hangouts profile with your cell phone number. It's an addition to the app that will be particularly useful to international users, who are used to this kind of contact lookup.
Back when we first took a look at the design initiative that would become "material design," we noted that Google planned to update apps incrementally, with changes happening over an unspecified period of time, until they'd evolved to full compliance. A couple of months ago Hangouts began its journey, but to many the app still doesn't feel quite up to par. A messy, improperly-layered drawer, lack of some familiar actions from the app's previous iteration, and of course no revised launcher icon are a few complaints begging for resolution.
Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects...
Placing a voice call over Google Hangouts is a nice way to save some money. If you and another user both rely on the service, you can start chatting with anyone regardless of where they live. But placing a call to a traditional phone number comes with a few more restrictions.
On the positive side, Google has announced that it's loosening a major one for users in India. Now residents there can place international voice calls using Hangouts.