Google is updating its Hangouts messaging app with some much-needed and requested features. The top of the list is combining your SMS and IM conversations within the app. Apple’s iMessages has implemented a similar system, and it’s one that many Android users called for and helps make Hangouts a more compelling option, especially since Hangouts has become the default messaging app on Android KitKat.
However, the feature isn’t quite up on with iMessage just yet. Though messages are merged within a single thread regardless of type, Hangouts still can’t detect the inability to send an instant and use SMS as a fallback. It’s an advantage that Apple has through controlling their entire system, but it’s the logical next step if Google wants to make Hangouts an even more convenient and attractive experience.
Other changes in the update include simplifying the categories of contacts to “People you Hangout With” and “Phone Contacts,” a new homescreen widget for quick access and the usual reliability improvements. Google Hangouts 2.1 is available in the Google Play Store now.