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Hangouts on Android will remove SMS support on May 22

Once upon a time, I was able to get most of my communication done through Hangouts. Between its support for standard SMS, Google Voice, and normal Hangouts conversations, it was an incredibly useful tool. It could even merge SMS and Hangouts conversations into the same thread, much like iMessage on the iPhone.

Over the past year or so, Google has been separating all this functionality into standalone apps. Google started asking SMS users to switch to Messages, then removed merged conversations, and finally launched a new separate Google Voice app. The company has also been trying to move people off Hangouts itself, with its new Allo and Duo apps.

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17 new and notable Android apps from the last 2 weeks (2/28/17 - 3/13/17)

Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.

Please wait for this page to load in full in order to see the widgets, which include ratings and pricing info.

Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.

Featured App

Accu Battery

Today's roundup is presented by Accu Battery from Digibites. Batteries today are ubiquitous with just about every device we use, as they play a critical role in our day-to-day that is difficult to dismiss. This means that it is pretty important to stay on top of your battery usage.

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Hangouts Meet app is out for Android [APK Download]

One of the many announcements for G Suite customers today was the split of Hangouts into two new apps - Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Meet is a video conferencing app, designed to be as easy to use as possible. The iOS version appeared before the official announcement, but now the Android app is live as well.

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Google officially splits Hangouts into 'Meet' and 'Chat,' new apps and @meet chat bot coming soon

After the announcement of Duo and Allo, the newest in a long line of Google messaging apps, Google made it clear that Hangouts would be re-positioned for corporate use. Last month, a new 'Meet by Google Hangouts' app appeared on the iOS App Store, revealing that a major reworking for Hangouts was nearing completion. Now, Google has officially announced Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.

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'Meet by Google Hangouts' is a new conferencing service for enterprise use

After the launch of Duo and Allo, Google began re-positioning Hangouts as a business tool. It's also part of G Suite, Google's collection of services for enterprise use. But overall, we really haven't seen any major changes since the switch to business use - until now.

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Hangouts redesigns the unread message indicators [APK Download]

Hangouts users, gather 'round. There's an important update that will likely make this the most popular messaging platform in the world. Ha, I kid! That ship has sailed long ago. But there is actually a small nifty update to Hangouts that will make it easier to catch up on active chats.

Now, when you open a conversation with lots of unread messages, you'll see a new floating button at the top to "Jump to last read" (first screenshot above). Tap it and Hangouts will automatically scroll up to the last message you read for context and you'll be able to see all the new unread messages below it (middle screenshot).

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Hangouts v16 reorganizes its contact list and search results [APK Download]

Hangouts v16 began rolling out earlier this week, followed this morning by an updated changelog that speaks of making it "easier to find the right contacts quickly" and the obligatory bug fixes and performance improvements. There aren't any major changes, but the contact list and search results are organized differently. Additionally, an old part of the interface has been removed.

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Google acquires Limes Audio to create "the best online voice quality on the market"

Google today announced that it has acquired Limes Audio, a Swedish sound company specializing in acoustic echo cancellation and speech enhancement. The move reaffirms Google's intentions to continue improving sound and call quality across its suite of products, particularly in Google Hangouts.

Poor internet connections or noisy environments like coffee shops can have a significantly adverse effect on the audio quality in an online chat, making it hard to understand the person on the other end. Hardware solutions like noise cancelling microphones are designed to filter out ambient noise and today come standard in most mid- to high-end phones, but they do little to reduce echos — and do nothing to address connectivity issues.

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Hangouts v15 adds GIF keyboard support on Android 7.1 [APK Download]

Has your meme game been suffering while you wait for Hangouts to add GIF keyboard support? Wait no longer, version 15 enables support for this quirky feature. No longer will you be stuck searching out images on the web and using archaic methods like sharing to get them into Hangouts – unless you're still using Android 7.0 or below, like more than 99% of users. If that's the case, this version appears to bring a few bug fixes and labeling tweaks, but not much else. Either way, there's a download link at the bottom if you'd like to jump ahead of the regular rollout schedule.

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Hangouts v14 adds app shortcuts for 7.1 Nougat, changes setup steps for group chat, and reorganizes several chat settings [APK Download]

Earlier this year Google's VP of Communications, Nick Fox, declared Hangouts would be refocused on the enterprise market where it had found much more adoption. Ironically, the couple of updates since that statement haven't exactly screamed professionalism, or even added much of anything particularly relevant to the workplace. That changes with v14, which cleans up and improves various aspects of group chats. This version also enables app shortcuts (formerly Launcher Shortcuts) for use on Android 7.1 and makes a few other tweaks, as well.

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