Today's Hangouts update was a bit of a surprise. Besides landing on Monday, the update was a fairly large one. Users of the latest version of Hangouts are already enjoying merged SMS/Hangouts threads, improved status markers, a new home screen widget, new sound effects, the ability to share contact cards, and other touches. But - as with any Google update - it's worth looking a little deeper in the app to see what may be hiding in the code. Often times, tearing down an APK can give us at least some hints as to future functionality, and today's update is no different. Let's get started.

Google Voice

First, and perhaps most exciting, there are tons of tidbits related to Google Voice. The integration, from the code we have, looks to include SMS, phone, and voicemail functionality, with some pretty interesting bonus features tossed in. Before we look at it, it's important to note that the code present so far is very sparse. It's possible that Voice integration is being worked on in a separate branch, but for whatever reason a few tidbits were already added to the public release.

First, the visuals. The building avatar would act as a placeholder for businesses, while the tape icons would be voicemail indicators. The Google Voice launcher icon is also included for reasons that are unclear.


It's also unclear for now just how the integration will work interface-wise, but there are loads of strings pointing to what will be possible. It's clear that users will have the option to "migrate" Voice to Hangouts, choose to use Voice for SMS, choose to see voicemail notifications in Hangouts, and perhaps place phonecalls from Hangouts using Voice.

<string name="gv_voicemail_notification_enabled_key">gv_voicemail_notification_enabled_key</string>
<string name="gv_voicemail_sound_key">gv_voicemail_sound_key</string>
<string name="gv_voicemail_vibrate_key">gv_voicemail_vibrate_boolean_key</string>
<string name="google_voice_messages_key">google_voice_messages_boolean_key</string>
<string name="gv_sms_notifications_key_title">Google Voice SMS</string>
<string name="google_voice_preference_category">GOOGLE VOICE - %s</string>
<string name="butter_bar_gv_promo_title">Migrate Google Voice to Hangouts</string>
<string name="sms_default_send_from_summary_with_number">Google Voice - %s</string>
<string name="sms_default_send_from_summary_without_number">Google Voice</string>

<string name="hangout_gv_insufficient_funds_dialog_title">Call ended</string>
<string name="hangout_gv_add_balance">Add Balance</string>
<string name="google_voice_messages_title">Messages</string>
<string name="google_voice_messages_summary">Show SMS &amp; voicemail in Hangouts</string>
<string name="google_voice_number_delimeter">", "</string>
<string name="via_gv">via GV</string>

Smart Reply

Those who choose to send SMS messages using Voice may have one additional option, for now known as Smart Reply. This will automatically choose which number to default to based on the last received message, helping users keep communications consistent when using their Voice or carrier numbers in Hangouts.

<string name="sms_smart_reply_title">Smart Reply</string>

<string name="sms_smart_reply_summary">Reply with your Google Voice or carrier number based on the last received sms in the conversation</string>

For now, the hints at Voice integration are fairly bare-bones, but things look promising.

SMS/MMS Backup

Interestingly, there is code suggesting the ability to dump SMS and MMS messages to a file, and later load information from that dump, essentially providing a backup solution for your SMS on Hangouts.

<string name="dump_sms_pref_key">dump_sms_pref_key</string>
<string name="dump_mms_pref_key">dump_mms_pref_key</string>
<string name="dump_sms_pref_title">Dump SMS</string>
<string name="dump_sms_pref_summary">Dump received SMS raw data into external storage file</string>
<string name="dump_mms_pref_title">Dump MMS</string>
<string name="dump_mms_pref_summary">Dump received MMS raw data into external storage file</string>
<string name="email_sms_mms_dump_file_subject">SMS dump file</string>
<string name="email_sms_mms_dump_file_chooser_title">Email SMS dump</string>
<string name="load_sms_mms_from_dump_file_dialog_title">Load dump file</string>
<string name="email_sms_mms_from_dump_file_dialog_title">Email dump file</string>


This one is still something of a mystery to us. There are strings and visual assets related to "Pano," which would at first blush appear to be related to the Camera's pano provider, which provides panorama/photo sphere browsing data to other apps, though it's unclear how these bits and pieces relate. Let's take a look at the related visuals first.


And here are the relevant bits of code:

<string name="pano_participant_mute">pano_participant_mute</string>
<string name="pano_participant_pin">pano_participant_pin</string>
<string name="pano_participant_ignore">pano_participant_ignore</string>
<string name="pano_self_toggle_audio_mute">pano_self_toggle_audio_mute</string>
<string name="pano_self_toggle_video_mute">pano_self_toggle_video_mute</string>
<string name="pano_self_invite">pano_self_invite</string>
<string name="pano_self_leave">pano_self_leave</string>
<string name="pano_ignore">pano_ignore</string>
<string name="pano_block">pano_block</string>
<string name="pano_cancel">pano_cancel</string>

<string name="pano_switch_account_browse_item">Switch accounts</string>
<string name="pano_pin_circles_browse_item">Select visible circles</string>
<string name="pano_pin_circles_description">Select the circles to display on the contact list.</string>

To sum up what we have so far, there are visuals related to contacts and circles, and strings related to participants, invites, and muting, making it appear to be related to video chat. What exactly it is has yet to be agreed upon among AP staff, but if you have an idea let us know!

Final Thoughts

That's all we've got for now. If you've found anything else digging around, let us know. Otherwise, if you haven't already, head to our original coverage to grab the update.