Google Hangouts has an update rolling out for Android that is probably best described as a house cleaning release. The update takes the messaging app to version 16 and cleans up contact lists and improves search within the app. Contact lists in this update are more streamlined with the Contacts option in the menu now gone. It has been removed from this part of the app as it was redundant to the Floating Action Button in your chat lists. You can use that FAB to add a chat with any contact(s) so they are effectively listed there for you.
Search within Hangouts has also been improved around contacts. Now when you tap the FAB to start a new conversation, when you start to type in the name of a contact, you will see four different lists: Frequent, On Hangouts, Your Groups and Not on Hangouts. The idea here is to quickly identify what communication paths are open for a contact so you can chose the best one for them. For those who are not on Hangouts, you will see an “Invite” link by their name.
Taken on the whole, all of these changes to Google Hangouts are pretty small and feel more like cleaning up the experience than to being revolutionary. But all of this still doesn’t really address what
Google plans to do with Hangouts or their other messaging apps. If there is one area that Google is more than confusing it is around messaging with Hangouts, Allo, Duo and now a revamped Google Voice in the mix. Google has stated that Hangouts is going to be focused more on the enterprise but that doesn’t really answer the question entirely. What about Project Fi customers who use Hangouts? Is SMS coming to Allo like it is in Hangouts?
Time will tell but for now, if you use Hangouts, this update is a bit cleaner on the experience side. If you have it installed, the OTA update should be coming to you over the next week or so.