Following the announcement of Allo, Google reiterated that Hangouts would remain as an enterprise-focussed messaging solution. To that extent, Hangouts will continue to receive new features, including an updated Chrome extension that introduces a tablet-like UI.
Aimed at providing a more consistent experience, the Hangouts extension is basically adopting interface of the current Chrome app, which in turn is nearly identical to the Android and iOS tablet apps. A left hand pane shows all of your conversations, while the selected thread opens up on the right hand side.
In comparison, the old UI allows users to have multiple chats open at the same time. The individual windows can be moved around or docked to the bottom of the screen. Users can begin opting into the new experience on August 31, while the old interface will be completely removed on October 16.
Fortunately, you can still retain a semblance of individual chat windows by using the small Hangouts widget present through the Gmail website. Individual windows are docked to the bottom of the page or can be popped out as floating windows.
This move comes as Google announced last week that Chrome apps will be phased out on Mac, Windows, and Linux by 2018. The Hangouts update seems like a covert way to maintain the Chrome app interface, as extensions will continue to be supported across all platforms.