Google’s Hangouts messaging service has been at the epicenter of the company’s efforts in a lot of areas: it’s taken on video chat, Google Voice calling, and even SMS over the years. That’s a lot of features (or cruft, depending on your feelings), and it’s made Hangouts on Android feel really messy. Now, Android Police has apparently acquired Hangouts 4, the next version of the app, and it seems to have a much cleaner interface.
Google follows their Material Design standard throughout the app, complete with beautiful drop shadows, slide-out drawers and that all-important floating action button. It’s not that Google has never used Material Design in Hangouts, but they seemed to only use it in some areas while neglecting all the rest.
When a conversation is selected, Hangouts 4.0 ditches the trash can icon, instead putting the delete action in an overflow menu with a “notify” option that essentially marks the conversation unread.
Inside an actual chat, everything has been tidied up. Overall, the chat interface seems to make slightly better use of space, with several tweaks that keep things feeling cohesive. Your outgoing messages are now white, while incoming ones are green. Additionally, your avatar no longer appears in chats, and time stamps are not included with each message, instead appearing sporadically throughout the message stream. The message bubbles also have pleasing rounded corners.
With SMS enabled, a dropdown appears on the left side of the message box with the option to manually switch between messaging options, similar to the current version of Hangouts.
Also No signs of quick reply? That is honestly the most obvious and convenient feature for a messaging app and the potential has been in Android for how long? It baffles me that it’s not there. But things can change as this is just a beta. We do not have any APK’s at the moment.
That’s it for Hangouts 4.0 for now. As with any unreleased app, there’s no way of knowing when the official release might happen or what might change between now and then, but here’s hoping we hear more soon.
Photo Gallery of the Hangouts 4.0 App
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