Back in October of last year, Google integrated SMS functionality into the Hangouts Android app. While many have found the added functionality to be quite convenient, it hasn’t been without its own set of issues.
Ignoring the obvious loss of yet another actively developed AOSP app in favor of a closed source offering, the Hangouts SMS integration always felt a bit incomplete. Part of this undoubtedly arises from how Hangouts has traditionally separated SMS and Hangouts conversations, even if they originated from the same sender. This has always lead to a disjoint feeling when transitioning from one messaging service to another–something that competitors like iMessage have already sorted out.
Now, Google has finally put and end to this, as the latest publicly available version of Hangouts (version 2.1) merges SMS and Hangouts conversations to/from the same recipient. When sending a new message, you’ll be able to select which service to send the message from with a flip of a switch. Message types will be easily discernible, as seen in the screenshot to your right, and you’ll be able to unmerge conversations at will.
In addition to the merged messaging, the new Hangouts app will simplify your contacts list into two main sections: people you Hangout with, and phone contacts. The new update also brings a quick widget to access recent conversations, as well as improved performance and reliability for video calls and SMS/MMS messages.
The new version is currently making its way out to consumer devices via a staged rollout. Because of this, not every device will receive the update in the first wave. Luckily, we’ve mirrored the APK over on our Dev-Host for those who want to get in on the action a bit early. You can check out the full list of added features by visiting the source link below. We can only imagine that quite a few of our readers have been looking forward to this for quite some time. I know I have. Leave us your thoughts in the comments section!
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