Google has updated Hangouts in Gmail today to allow users to set a status message. The Hangouts area, if you weren’t already using it, looks much more like Hangouts in Google+, showing you a small avatar for each contact. There’s also a Hangouts icon at the bottom that will show your most recent Hangouts message, truly bringing a Hangouts-like experience to Gmail–albeit in mini form. To get the updated version of Hangouts in Gmail, just click your own contact name, where you’ll find a button labeled “Try the new Hangouts.” After that, just click your own contact again where you’ll find you can now set a status message (and even use Emoji if you’d like!).
Here’s the official announcement from Google, really bad pun and all:
Status messages for Hangouts in Gmail are “available” starting today! Status messages make it easy to tell your Gmail contacts what you’re doing – whether you’re going on a trip, working from home on Tuesday, or thinking about adopting a puppy.
You can see your friends’ statuses by selecting the “Contacts” tab on the bottom left corner of Hangouts. If you’re not already using Hangouts in Gmail, simply click on your photo above the chat list and select “Try the new Hangouts”.