Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hangouts 2.1

Hangouts has just received a big dot release update this week and though it is a step in the right direction it shows that there is still work to be done. The updates big new feature is unified conversations between Hangout messages and SMS. This is a big step in the right direction as it was one of the the biggest problems with the app since Google added SMS. Having one source for the conversation is great, and I hope they push it even further. The first most obvious step down this road would be to have Hangouts send the instant message to whoever it can rather than the SMS and switch to SMS when the message is not being sent to the other persons phone. I imagine that we will see something like this once Google is able to implement Voice into the Hangouts service, which of course is no small feat. The other benefit from integrating Voice into Hangouts would be that we could see the next big feature, receiving and sending SMS from the Hangouts interface on the computer, phone and tablet. This would be a great update to an already awesome service the Google has given us and as a side benefit could mean backing up SMS messages so that a new phone or new ROM would be able to start off where you left off in your conversations. I think these are viable updates and seem like they are on the roadmap based on comments that Google employees have made about the future of Google Voice and the ever awesome Android Police teardown of the 2.1 update that shows some Voice pieces starting to make their way into the app.

What this reminds me of and what I would want to see in the future is the inclusion of other messaging protocols into the app as well as with WebOS synergy. Due to the fragmentation of protocols this may not be possible anymore as most IM services are moving away from Jabber and other open protocols. The glimmer of hope may be the Hera project, it could make for more interoperability based on what the leaks and rumours have said. I think we should see quite a bit at I/O this year. Lets see what happens.