It has been a little quiet on the app front today, but it is in fact Update Wednesday. There's a new version of Hangouts available for download right now, and it has at least one useful tweak. Presumably there are also some bug fixes and other under-the-hood changes.
Recently, we took a look at Ultra Violet, a new Hangouts app for Chrome that - at the time - was still in testing. It promised floating chats similar to Facebook's Chatheads feature, but for your desktop. Today, that app is finally a reality and available for download.
The premise is simple - as the video below demonstrates, a Hangouts bubble floats on the side of your desktop, opened from Google's Chrome app launcher, and subsequent conversations float above that.
As cool as Google Voice's free text message service is, it has always been a bit barebones. Big features like MMS have been missing for a lot of users, with some notable exceptions. Multimedia Message Service, usually used to simply attach a photo to a text message, is handled by completely different servers at most carriers, causing some problems with Google's forwarding system. It looks like Google has addressed these issues, at least for most people in the US and Canada, finally enabling the sending and receiving of MMS via Google Voice.
Google employee Alex Wiesen announced the new feature on his personal Google+ account.
September was a solid month for new Android releases. The new phone call functionality in Hangouts is easily the biggest news, but in our top picks below you'll find new media app options, new customization tools, ways to improve your videography, and all manner of interesting stuff to do on your phone or tablet. The honorable mentions section has even more goodies for you to check out. Your Android device won't be wanting for new things to do.
We were all elated when Hangouts finally gained the ability to make direct calls and text messages on Android. But that upgrade also seems to have broken a few features on the desktop (Chrome extension) version of the service: several users started reporting that they couldn't see incoming Google Voice text messages or recorded voicemails on their laptop or desktop computers, starting on September 12th. Good news, everyone: it looks like that problem is solved.
We saw Google Voice integration go live last night, but it contained a number of issues which this update is expected to fix. Yet as exciting as this is, what's more immediately striking is the new visual redesign.
With the amount of smudging this post required, I feel like I've been working on classified documents. The new version of Hangouts plasters your email address absolutely everywhere. It's not an issue when using the app, but it does make for some rather swirly screenshots.
Update: Hangouts 2.3 is now rolling out to devices in stages. If you rather not wait, we can help you download it manually. And as it turns out, this Dialer just links to a tab within the new Hangouts app. It is not a separate, standalone piece of software.
Hangout's Google Voice integration is finally happening. We started seeing functionality merge into Hangouts overnight, but there remain a few kinks to work out that we're hoping an upcoming app update will fix.
There have been rumors, speculation, hints in Hangouts updates, and now finally Google Voice is being rolled into Hangouts. The Hangouts app is offering to enable Voice SMS and voicemail via a popup in the conversation list. So check your app now!