Google Hangouts has officially dropped support of SMS for non Project Fi or Google Voice users. The support ended yesterday and was something that had been planned since Google announced the change back in March.
The change is part of the overall strategy of Google to move their G Suite customers to the new Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat while leveraging Android Messages for SMS on Android devices. For consumers, the focus is on Google Allo and Duo to meet these communications needs.
Google has sent notifications out to G Suite customers that in starting next week, a warning will show up in Google Hangouts that SMS will no longer be supported. That support will end on May 22nd. The notification and change is part of the overall strategy of Google to move their G Suite customers to the new Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat while leveraging Android Messages for SMS on Android devices. For consumers, the focus is on Google Allo and Duo to meet these communications needs.
For those readers who are on Project Fi (I am one of them) or using Google Voice, this change does not impact you. This change only impacts G Suite customers who are using carrier numbers to send and receive SMS messages. This fits along with what Google told me earlier this month at the Google Next Cloud event in San Francisco.
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.
Google has announced that they have acquired Lime Audio to boost their audio performance in Chromebox for Meetings and Google Hangouts. The acquisition, of which the financial details were not released, will allow Google to improve the audio experience as more customers are turning to video and audio conferencing in their day-to-day operations.
One of the biggest challenges to a great video meeting is the audio quality. Conference rooms today come in all shapes and sizes and that can provide a challenge for acoustics. Additionally, a poor internet connection can hamper voice quality in video conference calls. Limes Audio has been building solutions that remove the distracting noise, distortion and echoes that can affect online video and telephony meetings, improving the overall online conference experience.
Based on the release about the acquisition, Google is going to be incorporating the Lime Audio technology in to Chromebox for Meetings and Google Hangouts. When or how this will be done was not disclosed.
If you are a heavy user of Hangouts and use Chrome or Chrome OS, there is a new extension and app for you to check out. Last week Google announced that a new, Android-like Chrome extension for Hangouts would be coming out with the aim to improve performance and the overall look and feel of the UI. Achievement unlocked as both the extension and the app look far better than the old style and both perform exceptionally well.
The new extension can be found in the Chrome Web Store which allows you to run Hangouts while you are using your Chrome browser regardless of platform. This is what the majority of users will want, especially Chrome OS users, as the browser tends to stay open all the time.