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. Read More
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. Read More
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... Read More
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. Read More
Good news if you make a lot of short calls overseas. Google had started offering the first minute of Hangouts calls to 25 countries at no charge. It only lasts through the end of 2014, but that's still not a bad deal.
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More