We often look forward to Wednesdays for Google releasing updates to its library of Android apps, but it seems that this week we’re off to an early start. That Android 4.4.3 update may continue to be elusive, but Google’s been spotted sending out a new version of Hangouts to Android users, and while there’s no official list of new features just yet, hands-on experiences with the updated app have clued us in as to what to expect.
First off, it’s probably worth noting what’s NOT here: the long-rumored integration between Google Voice and Hangouts has still yet to occur.
That said, what we do get here is pretty interesting in its own right, and maybe the most compelling change delivered in this update (bringing the Hangouts app up to version 2.1) is the ability to merge SMS and Hangouts chat into one unified conversation. When your friends are reachable via Hangouts you can send messages that way, and fall back to SMS when only that’s available, and your conversation thread will stay on top of the transitions.
Beyond that, there’s some a new widget, not to mention UI tweaking with highlighted outgoing messages, changes to status displays, and notification SFX.
This one only just started going out to users, so if you don’t feel like waiting for your opportunity to upgrade to come along (which still might be a few days), hit up that source link to find the APK for download and manual installation.
Update: Google’s gone official with its own announcement. Besides what we covered here, it also mentions a simplified contact list and performance enhancements.
Source: Android Police