Google Hangouts for Android getting smarter with natural language parsing, consolidated contacts

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You’ve long been able to share your location with contacts in Hangouts chats, but the Google Hangouts for Android app is today getting a little smarter, noting when someone has asked where you are and automatically prompting you to share your location on a map.

Google indicates that this is merely the first step in building more intelligence into the app, describing it as “the start of something new.” Future versions of the app are thus likely to recognize more questions, offering the ability to answer them with a single tap.

The latest update to the app – which is rolling out during the course of the day – also offers a number of other new features …  Read more

Google Voice adds Verizon MMS support, native MMS for photo

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Google Voice has been granted a pretty decent update today, bringing the service to support MMS via a new carrier: Verizon Wireless. Additionally, Google has added native MMS support to the service for photo messaging and—if you choose to opt for Google Voice in Hangouts—you’ll be able to send photos as MMS like you would with any other normal attachment.

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Google Hangouts scores poorly in EFF’s study of most secure messaging services

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a report examining three dozen messaging services and ranking them based on what it deemed are seven “security best practices.” While Apple scored the best among what the EFF called “mass-market options”, it along with Google and others didn’t do as well when compared to all 36 messaging services included in the report. Specifically, EFF noted Google’s services “lack the end-to-end encryption that is necessary to protect against disclosure by the service provider.” Read more

Google Hangouts now supports free one minute voice calls in 25 countries

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Google recently announced that the first minute of voice calls through Hangouts will be free in 25 different countries. The search giant’s messaging app currently supports video chats and free domestic voice calls, but the company charges a different set of rates when a user places a call abroad. While you can purchase call credit for those longwinded long distance conversations, Google’s new offering is a reasonable option for quick calls or important (but brief) messages.

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Hangouts isn’t going anywhere, Google explains Android’s new Messenger app

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Google announced a plethora of goodies today and while we’ve been seeing several shots the company’s latest hardware, we keep noticing unfamiliar software icons hanging out on Mountain View’s new devices. Pictured above is a shot of Google’s new Messenger app that will be shipping with the Nexus 6 as part of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

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Google Hangouts for Android updated with Google Voice integration, free VoIP calls

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It’s finally all coming together. As many suspected would eventually happen, Google Hangouts is finally—in an update rolling out over the next few days—going to be getting integration with Google Voice. The latter service seemed to definitely be getting neglected by Google as of late, with much of the company’s focus going to its Hangouts platform. But it appears that Voice may even moreso eventually become a thing of the past because, starting today, Google is putting it straight into Hangouts as part of a new update to its apps across Android, iOS, and the web.

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Google launches Applause, a Hangouts on Air feature that tracks cheers and jeers in real-time

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Google announced a new feature for Hangouts on Air today called Applause, which lets viewers give a thumbs up or down to the content they’re viewing during a live video broadcast. In addition to sharing cheers and jeers,  this new features lets the search giant generate a real-time chart documenting the audience’s feedback as it happens. Despite looking like a game of Guitar Hero, the colorful graph gives broadcasters an easy way to monitor viewers’ feelings about their efforts. Think of it as a modern-day version of The Gong Show.

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Refreshed Hangouts in Gmail makes it easier to see who’s online

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Today, Google announced an update that improves Hangout’s integration in Gmail. In an effort to make your contacts more accessible, this new tab displays friends who are online first, followed by those who aren’t. You can still send messages to offline contacts, however they won’t get them until they sign into Hangouts from a desktop, smartphone or tablet.

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Hangouts on Air’s new Showcase app helps broadcasters further promote their products and services

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Today, Google announced the availability of its new Showcase app for Hangouts on Air that lets hosts promote content related to their conversation like websites, YouTube videos, Google+ profiles and content from Google Play via an onscreen panel displayed on the right-hand side of the video feed. For example, the cast of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes recently held a Hangout and used the Showcase app to share links to trailers and movie tickets.

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