Google Hangouts for Android is receiving a nice new update this week, addressing one of the most vociferous user complaints since SMS functionality was added last year: that the two content branches were separate.
The update merges Hangouts and SMS messages, but unlike iMessages on iPhone, does not do so automatically. Instead, it asks you to choose one or the other before sending the message. This offloads the responsibility to the user, rather than relying on Google’s servers to determine which devices have Hangouts installed. While the convenience factor is lower, this is likely as close to an iMessage-like experience as Google can produce at the moment.
The app is also getting a new homescreen widget, which showcases recent conversations and video/audio calls made. It’s nothing special, but, like the merging of Hangouts and SMS, is a long time coming.
Performance improvements and a simplified contact list round out the relatively concise change log, but Hangouts users will be very happy to see these changes.
The update is rolling out piecemeal throughout the week, so either wait for the update to arrive on Google Play, or head to Android Police for one of their mirrors.