In an email sent to Google Mobile Services partners on October 5th, Google outlined a significant change to the core GMS package (AKA gapps) for telephony-enabled Android devices (basically, smartphones). As of December 1st, Google will no longer require Hangouts to be bundled with new hardware. An excerpt of that email follows.
Today, we are announcing that Google Duo will replace Hangouts within the suite of core GMS apps, and Hangouts will become GMS Optional for telephony products. This change will take effect on December 1, 2016.
This does not mean Hangouts, or Hangouts for Android, is dead. It does mean that manufacturers may opt to stop including it on smartphones released in 2017, so you'd have to download it from the Play Store after initial setup. Read More
Google Allo, the second of Google's two new messaging apps, has just hit five million downloads in the Google Play Store. All the anticipation for Allo (let's forget about the subsequent letdown for now) has made its download numbers soar. However, the aforementioned letdown is quite apparent in its current ranking in the Play Store; while Allo sat at #1 in Top Charts just five days ago, it's since fallen to #8. Read More
Hangouts v12 came out last month and we took an opportunity to have a couple laughs at its expense over what appeared to be the only actual new feature: a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emote, accessible by typing /shruggie into a message box. With this update, that little guy brought all of his friends. Yes, the rest of the emote list is now accessible in Hangouts v13. There is also a new option to open web links with an in-app browser, though it may not be available to everybody just yet. And finally, the teardown shows Hangouts will have its own launcher shortcuts when Android 7.1 comes out. Read More
Google has dug itself a deep hole with Hangouts by integrating multiple messaging protocols and a myriad of little-used features. It's become a lumbering beast that often lags behind other Google apps in adopting new features as Android itself evolves. Enter, Allo—Google's new consumer-facing messaging client. It's faster, simpler, and it has Google Assistant built-in. So, how do these apps stack up? Let's find out. Read More
Hangouts on the desktop has always been a mess. First, there was the Chrome extension that always sits in your taskbar/menubar, with separate windows for every conversation. Later, Google released a Chrome app that looked (and functioned) much more like the Android app, with all of your conversations in one window. For some reason, both have remained on the Chrome Web Store.
Recently, Google announced that they will phase out Chrome apps, with Google recommending that existing apps be converted into extensions or Progressive Web Apps. Read More
Google has been testing Cast support in Hangouts for over a year, with the most recent sighting back in July. The feature never rolled out widely or was officially acknowledged by Google, until now. Casting directly to Hangouts is coming to everyone soon thanks to full Google Cast integration with Chrome on the desktop. Read More
Forget video messaging, direct share, and whatever happened here. The most important update in Hangouts history finally happened and you're all here to witness it. The Master of Meh has come to Hangouts for Android and really wants you to know it's all okay. It's Shruggie! Yep, the latest update brings Google's greatest non-easter egg to the messaging screen in all its unconcerned glory. You're honor-bound to get the update immediately and begin showing just how unimportant things are to you, too. Read More
One thing has always annoyed me about Hangouts: there's no search option. How can you have a messaging service and not allow people to search through their conversations inside the service?! That's beyond comprehension. Of course there's a way to circumvent it by searching through chats in Gmail. But that neither was intuitive nor made sense unless you were familiar with the feature.
According to screenshots we've received from a test preview version of Allo, Google's new messaging app doesn't suffer from that silly limitation. Search is well implemented and it's universal throughout the app. There's a search icon on the top right of the main screen that lets you look for a contact/group's name (in case you have lots of chats and need to quickly find a specific person/group) or any word(s) inside a chat. Read More
Just a few hours ago, Google started the rollout for the first of its two new messaging apps, Duo. For me and some of us here, the Play Store listing still shows "Pre-Registration," but this is the typical Google way. As a refresher, Google is releasing the dynamic messaging duo (ha) to compete in this mobile-first market. Both the text-based Allo and the video-based Duo will be tied to a phone number instead of a Google account. This, obviously, directly contests with Hangouts, Google's all-in-one messaging platform, and is more in line with services like WhatsApp.
Earlier, Google announced that they would be transitioning Hangouts On Air into YouTube Live, separating the feature from Google+. Read More