Google Merges Texts, Hangout Chats on Android

Google today launched an updated Hangouts for Android, which merges SMS and Hangout conversations and adds a homescreen widget, among other things.

The latest version is rolling out to the Google Play store over the next few days.

Hangouts 2.1 lets users choose to combine text messages and Hangout conversations with the same recipient into a single exchange. “You can control whether you want to send a message via Hangouts or SMS with the flip of a switch,” Google said, adding that different message types will be marked for easy recognition. Merge or unmerge conversations as you please.

On a mission to simplify your life, Google has also broken its Hangouts contact list into two main sections: “People You Hangout With” and “Phone Contacts.” The revamped feature makes it easier to keep up with friends who don’t use Hangouts to communicate.

Alongside performance improvements like better quality video calls and improved SMS and MMS reliability, Google also added the Hangouts widget, which users can drop anywhere on their homescreen for quick access to recent conversations.

Earlier this year, Google pushed out a revamped version of the free Hangouts messaging app for iOS, offering a new look and feel, with better navigation and performance improvements.

While some folks hold their breath for more Hangouts announcements at June’s annual I/O developer conference, everyone else can download the latest version of Hangouts for free in the Google Play store.

For more, see PCMag’s review of Hangouts for Android.

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