It seems like it was just yesterday that we were awaiting an update to version 13 of Google Hangouts with its host of new emoticons and stability improvements. And while Google is trying to really market Allo to its growing consumer base, Hangouts looks to be in continued development as it makes the shift to a more enterprise-level service.
Around here, Hangouts is still king, so we are very happy to see ongoing development. Let’s see what’s new!
First up, we have the addition of app shortcuts. Some of you may be unfamiliar with this as it is a feature unique to Android 7.1. In its most basic form, app shortcuts are like 3D Touch on an iPhone. No real pressure is needed (and never was necessary, IMHO), just a simple long-press on the app icon and you get a nice sub-menu of quick actions. (see the main pic above)
For Hangouts, we get:
- Voice Call
- Video Call
Clicking any of these starts a new call or chat, and is super-handy if you are ready to jump into a new conversation. You don’t have to open the app and click around. Simply select the action and you are ready to go.
These will get more and more useful as time goes on and developers take advantage of app shortcuts as time goes on.
Simplified Group Setup
I’ve always thought creating a group to be just a bit clunky in Hangouts. Version 14 separates out the single and group contact spaces, making both much simpler and more clear.
You can see from the screen grab that the default new conversation is with a single contact. Start typing or select from a contact in the list and you are in the chat window. Easy.
For a group, simply select ‘New Group’. You get the chance to name the group and quickly add in contact there. Again, simpler and way more straightforward. Little user flow fixes like this make apps feel much more polished and user friendly.
Clearer Menu Options
Inside chats, we used to have the menu item ‘People and Options’ and it never made sense to stick them together. Usually I’m just hunting for who’s in a group, not really wanting to mess with settings. As of version 11, Hangouts finally gave users the ability to remove users from groups as well, so having a simple place to see who’s in a group is much simpler and streamlined.
So far, that’s all the new we’ve seen, but we’re encouraged and excited that development continues on our much-beloved Hangouts app. It give me hope that I won’t have to part ways with it for a long time to come.