Hangouts just got a pretty big upgrade this morning to kick off “Update Wednesday,” folks. Googler Rhett Robinson detailed the update on Google+ and gave us a pretty hefty list of new things to look forward to once it finds its way to Android devices over the course of the day. Here’s everything that’s new:
- Stickers, with an initial collection of 16 different sticker packs to use in your conversations. Think emojis, except bigger, better and more expansive.
- New video filters for video calls, including sepia, vignette, black and white and more. All accessible by simply swiping left or right during a video call.
- Use your phone number with your Hangouts account to help friends find you more easily.
- Last seen timestamps to know when, exactly, a contact was last active on Hangouts.
- Smart suggestions will prompt you to respond to common messages with relevant information. Example: someone asking “where are you” will let you share your current location immediately with the tap of a button.
Something not mentioned in Robinson’s notes, but apparent in the few screenshots provided, is the presence of Material Design (or at least hints of it throughout the app’s action bar). The post did note that there were other surprises to be had that he didn’t expound on, so it’s possible this is the big design upgrade we’ve all been waiting for.
Unfortunately the update doesn’t seem to be hitting devices yet, but Google is expected to roll it out later today through the Google Play Store. Keep an eye out on that update button and get ready for some great new features that should make Hangouts more of a joy to use than it already is.