Google Hangouts update to bring SMS, animated GIFs and location sharing; Auto Awesome for video detailed


Google’s Vic Gundotra is carrying on with the live Google+ event right now, and the esteemed exec has just announced the great new upgrade to Hangouts we’ve all been waiting for. I’m talking about SMS support, of course. While we haven’t been given many details about the implementation at this moment, we should find out more soon enough. We imagine it’ll work much like iMessages does for iOS, where your Hangouts and SMS conversations are all grouped into the same seamless experience.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 10.02.08 AM

Alongside that bit of feel-good news, Google has also finally announced support for .GIF moving images, as well as the ability to share your location with your friends and family with one easy tap of the “Places” button (powered by Google Maps, of course).

Google also had exciting news to share about video on the platform. For starters, video Hangouts can now take place in full-screen mode, with full HD quality being available across ALL devices. We were told this was coming before, so it’s nice to know that it’s finally about to go live for everyone. Google has also introduced Auto Awesome for videos.

What’ll it allow you to do? Here’s a quick list to whet your whistle with:

  • It can blur your background and make you, the subject, stand out from the hecticness going on around you.
  • It can brighten up the subject in a video that’s under-exposed.
  • It can give your video a more vibrant look and feel.
  • It can apply an artificial “focus” spotlight to make you stand out from your background.

None of these changes will rock your socks off or make your video completely whacky, but it’s a nice touch for those who aren’t in the most optimal lighting situations or who just want to present themselves on video a bit better.

Google says the upgrade to Hangouts will be rolling out in the Google Play Store starting in the next few days and the weeks after, though they obviously weren’t interested in giving an exact time frame for all these goods. You can bet we’ll keep you updated as soon as it’s out, though, so be sure to stay tuned to Phandroid if you’ve been waiting on this.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. NNNnnnnnnnoooooooooooo :(

    1. If you’re saying nooo to the disappointment of praying there would be a Nexus announcement somewhere in there for a are not alone my friend. *Super deep sigh*

  2. They’re turning G+ into a fine photo editor. I remember when it used to be a social networking app.

    1. I think they’ve realized it’s never going to compete with the likes of Facebook the way it’s being run now. I have a feeling they’re trying to distract us until they’re ready to show us something compelling.

      1. Eh, I would be happy if they’d just bring back v2.5 on Android. That was the last version where you could long-press a post to mute it (a feature which Google broke and refuses to fix), and the last version that had a clean, text-based layout that was actually somewhat pleasant to use on a mobile device. Then just allow us to filter posts based on keywords; that’s probably the last update I’d ever need.

        1. No no no, that use of long-press doesn’t agree with their new UI vision. They’ve redefined long-press for only multi-select.

          Seriously, I’m shocked that I seem to be one of the only Android fans on the internet who is very taken aback by their new vision. It’s very much an Apple vision and it’s extremely upsetting.

          1. Yeah, they’ve joined Apple, MS, and pretty much the rest of the industry in declaring war on power users :P

      2. Wrong No one really gets on FB like that anymore its a matter of time before people move over to google plus

        1. Wrong. 500 million users on Facebook. 300 million on Google+. Most use Facebook. Go away troll.

          1. You proved my point google plus is younger than fb who is the real troll I ask ?

          2. Yeah Facebook has more users but there’s nice chunk of users who don’t really ‘use’ Facebook.

          3. I am proud to be one of those people. I think I login once a year.

          4. I think I’d be one of those too if it weren’t for their push notifications.

          5. There’s also a nice chunk of people who spend their entire lives on Facebook. Like my sister for example

          6. True there are those as she but don’t most folks just get on, if ever, to read the latest gossip or be nosy?

          7. lol you proved my point with your numbers

  3. Where is my offline/online status for hangouts?!

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Sigh.

      1. They already introduced this a couple of versions back. You get little icons next to each person which are either green if online or grey if offline. Or am I misunderstanding what you are asking for?

        1. Oh that Little Green line doesn’t mean crap. What if someone is online but on “away” or on “busy” it doesn’t show up!

          I want to sort by having online people show up first, it doesn’t show that. Something normal.

          1. I am not referring to the green line you get on the desktop but rather a small little icon shown on the app that works pretty much as you describe. Take a look at the screenshot I have included in which I have highlighted the feature I am referring to. It doesn’t let you filter your contacts to put online users at the top sadly, but it does order by who you talk to the most.

          2. I can’t tell if someone is away or busy or online. And why is it different on the desktop?! Come on Google I<3 you for a reason.

          3. I take your point. They probably should just implement statuses in a similar fashion to the old GTalk.

          4. Not sure why there is this duplicate of my post but labelled as a ‘Guest’.

          5. I am not referring to the green line you get on the desktop but rather a small little icon shown on the app that works pretty much as you describe. Take a look at the screenshot I have included in which I have highlighted the feature I am referring to. It doesn’t let you filter your contacts to put online users at the top sadly, but it does order by who you talk to the most I believe.

          6. yes but what you are showing are the online off line dots, that dont tell you if someone is away or busy. (i personally don’t care too much about that, but what i do care about is the fact that those green dots only appear on the main homescreen and you have no idea if someone signs off mid conversation. Not on that but the homescreen disappears and is replaced by a list of your convos until you close a convo. Its setup quite stupidly.

        2. Yeah.. what everyone else said. Someone could be idle on a device for weeks and it would show them green.

          I read somewhere that they will be making improvements (google groups?) hopefully they still will be.

          1. Yes, true although I guess if their mobile device is connected, even if they have been idle, are they not online? They will get a push notification straight away. Though I can see it would be useful to have some range in status for certain circumstances given people’s devices are almost always on and there would be times when they would be busy, asleep or driving.

            To be honest for the sake of ease they may as well just bring back the implementation used by the old Google Talk and so many other IM services. People are used to it and there was nothing really wrong with it. Although maybe with some smart additions such as automatic setting of your status based on Geofences and the other awesome powers of Google’s location service. For example, marking you as busy while at work or when driving. Maybe even saying explicitly “At work” or “Driving” as the status if so desired.

          2. I thought about this for a little and I think its more of a habit to be a peeping tom for who’s online. I should really not care… I really have no valid reason for need more than online/offline.

            Seems to me its just a comfort feature but would be nice.

    2. That update already does exist, you haven’t updated your Hangouts app, have you?

    3. Update hangouts it’s been there since the last update.

      1. its only there on the main homescreen, not while you are in the chat window, and you have to close a chat in order to bring back the main homescreen. It’s quite silly

        1. I agree it is quite silly but it’s better then nothing.

          1. still not better than google talk though lol. How does integrated work? If they suddenly sign off then they’ll get the message as a text?

          2. I’m wondering the same thing. I have my doubts about it.

  4. Also, where is my KitKat and Nexus 5?

    1. Don’t expect this to happen until November 1st. That’s the rumored date of release and chances are it’s going to be a silent one.

  5. I don’t use Google hangouts on my device…will my sms messages be left alone?

    1. My guess is that if you’re using a Nexus device, SMS will be integrated through Hangouts and thus forcing you to use it. But if you’re on an OEM device like me, they already have their own standalone SMS app. I don’t see how Google can infringe on the decisions of OEM’s.

      1. Mega 6.3….I just uninstalled all hangout updates and forced stopped hangout hoping it works.

        1. You should be fine. Samsung has their own messaging app so if you’re comfortable using that then you should still be able to. Besides, I don’t see how Google can address all the third-party apps that handle SMS all at once.

    2. You have to give permission for Hangouts to hijack your SMS stuff. There was some dev leaks a week or so ago about Google asking developers to use the API in a new way to let their apps do this.

      1. thx for the info! Its good to know I can keep my regular sms if I want.

  6. I don’t get why everyone is so let down over a non-Nexus device announcement. Did anyone REALLY think there was going to be a small Google+ event for a Nexus announcement? I’d expect them to hold a bigger conference for it or just silently introduce the product like they did with the Nexus 4.

    1. I at least expected a, “thank you for coming and for being so enthusiastic about all the changes we discussed today……ohyeahandthenexus5willbereleasedsometimelaterthisyear BYE”

    2. Nexus 4 was announced on October 29, everyone who has been speculating until now has been jumping the gun. It makes perfect sense to announce KitKat and Nexus on Halloween for the chocolate promo tie-in. Everyone is just impatient.

      1. Hurrican Sandy also happened around this time and the google event was in NY. Therefore, being canceled and the device just being unveiled by default.

  7. I hate to say it, but FaceTime is still king of the video chats. Skype and especially Hangouts have sketchy video quality and 9/10 times there’s a terrible delay. FaceTime on my wife’s iPhone is far far better than anything I can do with Android. In fact, that’s a good part of the reason she’s been keeping her iPhone. Her sister lives in Japan so we really need a good video chat app. If this update changes any of that, we’re golden and she might make the switch.

    1. How can FaceTime be king when it is monogamous to one platform?

      1. im pretty sure he meant king of quality

    2. I hate to say it, but I agree with you. Hopefully with the changes announced to day for HD video calling, this won’t be the case any longer. But my wife’s iphone is, too, very high quality even if it is only for the iOS platform in terms of video chatting.
      come on, Hangouts, let’s step it up with this app update!

    3. Not sure if you have noticed recently though, Apples loss of some VPN patent infringement did reduce the quality of facetime. I used it regularly to talk to my family and it was pretty drastic. Whereas it used to be very smooth, it then became sketchy much like was described about Hangouts and Skype. I made the switch to android about two months ago and have no idea if Apple worked those quality issues out, but personally I blame video calling also on the individual devices when it comes to Android; something that Apple obviously tightly controls. People tell me video coming from my phone looks great but its not always the case of video I receive. (Using HTC One)

    4. I love Android but have to give Apple credit for this. As well as their keyboard for typing for those of us who don’t prefer to swype

  8. This might make me try google+ & Hangouts.

  9. will this support mms as well?

    1. Hangouts has always allowed pictures, and now you get videos. For the moment, no messaging to actual phones without the app, though every indication shows that kitkat will bring a merge between SMS/MMS and hangouts.

  10. so am I the only one still using google talk on android and haven’t updated to hangouts on my gmail either?

  11. This is great news, really want to use Hangout as my default sms app, but was affraid it would require KitKat

  12. I want SMS for hangouts NOW.

  13. I cant wait until this update for SMS integrated messaging hits

  14. So is this basically like iMessage in that it seamlessly integrates data messaging with SMS/MMS but is multiplatform and has a lame name?

    1. Not yet. It sounds like it just merges it with the message app. Still has a way to go to really be imessage. At least thats a guess, the conference basically touched on it and then just talked about the photo/video editing.

  15. What I really want is something like Facebook’s Chat Heads to be added so I can use #Hangouts without leaving #Ingress!

  16. APK yet?

  17. Why is no one screaming about google voice integration?

    I could care less about SMS, and .GIF integration…. Give me my google voice services seamlessly integrated, PLEASE.

    1. * You couldn’t care less, not could care less………

  18. Nice hopefully this gets released in the next two weeks or so.

  19. these real-time attempts are most welcome. Google wanna go supersonic that to be kept other competitors far behind ! Hope changes will give us positive direction in our web biz.

  20. does this include google voice integration? i mean it asked to confirm our number(carrier and GV #) when hangouts first came out.

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