Yes, the day many have been waiting for in eager anticipation is finally here: Google has officially announced in a blog post that Hangouts version 4.0 goes live in the company’s Play Store today.Google’s post lets us in on some exciting things to expect with this release, notably the ability to receive and respond to group SMS messages with Google Voice integration and the revival of status messages, which were brought to the web and Chrome app last year (and were slated to come to Android in “a future release”).
There’s also a completely new design here, as well as full Android Wear support:
Here’s what’s new:
- Hangouts is sleeker. Now updated with material design, Hangouts has a new look and feel: items respond to your touch in more intuitive ways and transitions between tasks are more fluid.
- Hangouts is simpler. The new Compose button makes it easier for you to start a new group or conversation. Our streamlined contacts list helps you find the right person quickly. And attachments have been revamped and simplified, so sharing—of emoji, GIFs, your location, even multiple photos at once—is a snap.
- Hangouts is faster. Whether you’re sending a quick message or video chatting with family, you don’t want hold-ups. We’ve been obsessively fixing bugs and speeding up message delivery to make Hangouts faster and more reliable. Bonus: less battery consumption.
The updated app most certainly does feel quite fast and responsive, although we admittedly haven’t had very much time with it yet. Group SMS support should be a pretty exciting addition for Voice users who’ve up until now had to deal with the frustration of receiving each response to a group message as an individual Hangouts message thread. Now they’ll all be properly grouped together. Group MMS, though, or actually composing group messages, isn’t part of this release and will come in a “future release.” And the status message feature takes me back to the days of AIM when I spent so much time at my computer that being away was so unusual I felt a need for the status message — now with smartphones we’re almost never inaccessible.
Performance, particularly speed and how much battery life Hangouts consumes with the new version (Google says it’s less than before), will take longer to bring a verdict down upon. But so far we’re impressed with the updated app.
You can grab the APK from right now via APKMirror.