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Hangouts 2.1 for Android: SMS improvements and a homescreen widget

Today we’re launching the newest version of Hangouts for Android, rolling out to the Play store ( over the next few days. Highlights include:

- Merged conversations: SMS and Hangout conversations with the same recipient are now combined into a single conversation. You can control whether you want to send a message via Hangouts or SMS with the flip of a switch, and different message types will be easy to tell apart in the conversation. Of course, you can always merge and unmerge conversations if you’d like.

- Simplified contact list: now there’s two main sections in contacts — People you Hangout With, and Phone Contacts — making it simpler to navigate, and easier to use for SMS.

- Homescreen widget: add the Hangouts widget to your homescreen for quick access to your recent conversations.

- Performance improvements: today’s update includes better quality video calls, as well as improved SMS and MMS reliability.

The new version will be available in the Play store ( this week, so download or update and let us know what you think!

#hangouts #googleplusupdate 
Oscar Reyes's profile photoBob Traweek's profile photoEd Gaines's profile photoAnthony Osterman's profile photo
Would love to see a quick reply feature.
Ryan Hayle
So.... Still no Google Voice support, and no voice calling like iOS has. I really wish you would explain your priorities to us. I assume there's still no way to see a contract's status without going to the new message screen?

Separating the contacts into two lists doesn't make any sense to me. Surely it's about the people you want to communicate with, regardless of the medium.

How about fixing the very serious issue of delayed messages?
How about a way to stop death by overnotification? I'm tired of clearing notifications from every device I develop on, or getting my phone vibrating while I'm active on a chat interface because I hadn't responded to that person recently.
+Ryan Hayle big features update will be held off for the stage at Google I/O, damn sure about that :-P 
+Eric Schrag notifications generally only show on one device at a time, the device you're using to communicate.
+Ryan Hayle
have some patience. this is a HUGE update!!!!!
thanks google!!!!!!
their priorities are clearly in the right place!

delayed messages? ive never seen such an issue.... maybe its your phone
separating the contacts makes sense to is still about ppl you want to communicate with - so sorry more information on them is just a swipe away
I hope you added the ability to save photos if a person sends you multiple photos in one message.  It is very annoying to receive 4-5 photos and not be able to save them.
Nana Okyere
+Ryan Hayle +100 on your comment. How they haven't fixed the delayed messages is beyond my understanding. Also, IOS has had the voice calling for a while now. Heck, they even had a redesign that has increased the rating of the app on Apple platform. And your own Android gets nothing? The May deadline for third party GV apps to stop using the functionality is nearing. We need google to give us this major update before then.
Kinda sad to not see a new icon or a green actionbar. Also a "quick reply" option would be really handy. 
+Colton Walker Not my experience at all. I can be at work on Adium, get a new message from a friend/colleague, and my Nexus 5 and 10 both vibrate, and my Nexus 7 flashes. I'm not crazy... as far as I know.
I wonder why they decided to leave the new Moods from iOS out of this update...
Kevin Wu
GOOGLE VOICE, GOOGLE Voice, google voice...! please don't kill it, please...
+Mike Dodd a couple suggestions for duture updates, if I may...

SMS syncs through to all Hangouts enabled devices just like Hangouts. Then I could send/receive SMSs while working on the tablet or desktop without having to stop and get my phone out.

More options, like being able to schedule when a message us sent. The ability to compose a group message but send it individually (like BCCs in emails).

Maybe a pop up with the message and a reply option so I don't have to exit my app to respond.
Sorry +Mike Dodd, but I have another question: now that SMS and Hangout messages are combined, are the SMS messages now also backed up on a server and synced across devices? Because that would be truly awesome!
Wow, this is awesome! Definitely the most annoying thing since I bought my Nexus 5 was the fact that you could have 2 conversations going on with the same person just because somebody didn't reply back with hangouts and instead used voice typing to reply to a message. This made my day! Thanks +Mike Dodd!
Lucas Teles
I wish they do this for android:
-Voice call
-Voice message
-timestamp last seen
-Google voice
-draw messages
Please give us the ability to record up to 20sec or even 1min video clips. It'll give us a choice of longer or shorter video recording. This will also give Hangouts the advantage it needs over Vine (6sec) and Instagram (15sec). While you guys are at it, give us Drive integration or ability to send files over Hangouts. Now that, that would be awesome! 
Sigh. Ugly green chat bubbles. Great features, but a step back in aesthetics.
Merged SMS and hangouts messages + fixed contacts list? These were the only 2 things on my Hangouts wishlist, so this is a very welcome update!
+1 for issue of delayed message. Also needed delivery message status
Nice, it's much faster to switch to now 
would love the option to rename group message (MMS) convos, which you can already do on group hangout convos.
Still no unicode strip for supporting non english languages
 Great Job ! We need voice messages please !!
I rather would have the 'old' xmpp back. Interchange with people outside of google.
There is a few things I would like to see:
* moderation of group chats
* increase the number of people in group chats (limit currently 100)
* fix the lag (currently up to 20 min delay)
* mark the message one has read so far
* get rid of the 'notifications disabled' bar in red. for many this is the default and only eats screen 

I could go on for a while. None of the listed features in the new version make any sense for me (and quite a few hard core hangout users I know)
+Mike Dodd an option to disable swiping away conversations would be nice. I alwas do it by mistake
Definitely would be great if I could read my SMS messages on my tablet (although expect this isn't possible).
+Mike Dodd why not making the same ui with the iOS version and please bring the feature on iOS to Android 
Echoing the requests for being able to remove people from a hangout, and to have hangouts with more than 100 people.

On top of that though, I'd love to be able to customize the notification sound on a per contact/per hangout basis.
To all the the complainers.
Hangouts hasn't been official for all that long. This is still a relatively young service. This is a huge update and there will be plenty more coming. So stop hating. Go back to iOS if that's all you want
It is unfortunate that the synchronization between the device occurs only posts Hangouts / Sync SMS messages not. It would be great in correspondence to one device, take another and see where all the correspondence.
Who is talking of iOS? Never been there. Google switched from XMPP (which they where a big supporter back than) because they claimed xmpp would not support the features they want. My use case (and only my..) is text messages. I don't need no video calls. quality on mobile is way to low to be usable.  
So are we getting rid of the hideous orange bar when you have notifications turned off, or allowing distinct notification sounds per hangout ?
MMS Picture quality is degraded when it is sent.
Any ETA on when Android will get those "stickers" that the iOS version received back in March?
Awesome! I'm super stoked. Any word on when Hangouts will merge with Google Voice?
When will I be able to manually merge conversations? Hangouts refuses merge SMS/hangouts for one of my contacts!
I was totally waiting for the merged chat, great!
+1 for having SMS messages available on every devices, that would be really a killer feature!
+Ryan Hayle yes its a very serious issue. I just don't know but its been around for several months now without fix. I receive messages sometimes 30 minutes later than when it was sent.

It makes the one I'm chatting with feel I'm not responding to the message meanwhile I don't see them. Both on PC and tablet. I'm sure it'll be same on phones too. Can +Google have a look into that?

All the updates might be not as useful as it should if mere sending and receiving images lag
I realized the now you can send Video Messaging but sent as MMS not thru Hangouts. Video quality is Very Low as well. I know some people still get charged for MMS so I kinda can't understand :(
Does it support SMS to 5 digit short codes yet?
+Mike Dodd i've just one simple wish. Please enable the enter key so i can finally write readable sms again. here in austria we don't have sms flat's so it makes a huge difference if i have to write 3 sms because i can't make a enter in a single message. i would have modified the apk but this is not possible because this would change the hash of the apk and so the play services won't work anymore.

+Mike Penz I know you can have an Enter Key by Clicking the Up Arrow. When you Text is in Caps the Smiley Face Key will change to Enter Key. Try it
Needs a pop up feature for quick replies. Something like hoverchat, evolvssms or GoSms
+Kelvin Peralta yeah I know but I don't need those smileys and it is always really annoying. I use SwiftKey now which allows an enter on long click but I think it isn't optimal.

Still thanks for the tip 
Another request for Google Voice integration! Come on guys. You released this feature on iOS 4 or 5 months ago. What is going on here?

Edit: Did I mention Google Voice? Because Google Voice is what Hangouts really needs ASAP.
+Mike Penz No problem. I know people having the same request. I guess Google can have an option to disable Smiley's and just Have the Enter Key.
That nice but I still would like few feature that would be VERY handy:
1) when reading a HO, you always get at bottom (newest) message. But you need a lot of effort to catch where you left and read croncologically from top to bottom. If in HO there are like 30 new messages, don't want to have to scroll upward getting some clue from where to read.
2) HO is missing basic moderation control. Would be nice to be able to open a moderated channel and moderator be able to kick some one or prevent anyone to include new members to the chat (or change name)
3) On PC (in gmail and Gplus), the window that handle the chat get slower and slower as messages pile up
nice! please make sms sync through account devices without gsm (to nexus 7)  
The merged SMS / Hangouts concept seems like it'll just add more confusion. I'll give it a shot though. I'm guessing there's still now "set availability" option (online/away/busy) which has been badly needed. Even some Smart Availability that linked to your calendar/call status would be awesome. 

Does anyone ever use the "Set Mood" option? Where does it show up? Who sees your mood once you set it? I've never understood that 'feature'

And, as others have already stated, Google Voice integration for Google Voice # SMS messages, call history, voicemail, etc. 
+Mike Penz there's an Xposed module if you're rooted to enable enter in hangouts edit: it seems for now that prevents opening the app and it force closes
Unfortunately 2.1 seems to be completely borked for 4.4 VZW Droid Maxx. Force closes immediately when trying to start up the app. Clearing data/cache doesn't help.

Edit: No I'm just an idiot. I had the XForceEnter Xposed module running, which caused the app to force close. I completely forgot it was installed.
+Noah Eisenbruch Maybe you haven't, but it's been a huge issue for me, my family and my business associates, all of whom have 4.4.2 androids and all of whom constantly bitch at me about it. I'm at risk of losing several of them to iOS because of it. 

Also, while i'm sure we're all appreciative that they're working on Hangouts, I can't say they've got all their priorities straight. Google voice having separate contacts is absolutely ludicrous, and seems like it'd be a pretty easy fix. As stated above, many of the people whose phones i'm responsible for are citing these reasons as giant negatives while missing out the overwhelmingly positive features of the platform. Not having basic phone services at 100% is pretty unacceptable. 
Is there a method of changing the color of the text boxes of the messages I sent?!
Yea so on my Google official Nexus know, the official Dev device? Hangouts 2.1 hangs and then forcecloses. Clearing data and cache didn't help. Nothing helped. It is a botched update and thankfully there are ways to downgrade.

You need some serious QC and I hope this is fixed soon
The green hue is way too similar to WhatsApp. I never really cared for unified messaging anyway.

At least give us the option to invert the colors, as I rarely SMS I would prefer the dominant message color to be white.
Just installed on my Nexus 5. All working smoothly.

I'm using ART, though, if that makes a difference...
Can we be able to send multiple pictures at once? It's not so convenient to go back to the gallery for each image we want to send to a hangout.
love to kill the unneeded highlights. since I have all messages coming in on the left, and only my outgoing on the right... why do I need a highlight......? makes no sense at all.  
The "Phone Contacts" section in Hangouts doesn't seem to respect the "Contacts to Display" settings in the People/Contacts app. I've ended up with a massive list of contacts in Hangouts that I rarely ever use on my phone. 
Can I send text messages so they appear from my Google voice number yet? That's a killer...
+Kevin Wu if they cut voice they will integrate it with hangouts
I can see that it shows the messages I sent over hangouts in green, but what about those messages that are sent to me. How do I know if they are contacting me over hangouts or SMS? 

Why does it now close the keyboard when I try to scroll through my messages? If I want it to close, I will tap, not drag.

And why can't I copy the text from a message that wasn't sent. Many times it has failed to send a message, and the retry button does nothing; instead I have to retype it (and change at least on character) and send it again, and it works just fine. This would be much easier if I could just copy/paste the text, or edit the existing message before resending it.
+Pete Kemp Well that explains why 2.1 Hangouts force closes on me. Completely forgot I had that installed. Thanks for the heads up!
Looking forward to the feature where my hangouts become searchable in gmail, and where it doesn't require a 3rd party app to make backups.
+Ryan Hayle Google Voice support is something they are actively working on, it's just not ready for release yet.
I really want my SMS messages to come from a consistent phone number. Preferably my Google Voice number. Why can't we make this happen?
google voice not even available in most parts of the world 
+Mike Dodd, This is great!
2 Questions:
1. Will the SMS log be kept in Gmail as well?
2. Will you arrange the logs in Gmail. It's a mess. We want one long threaded conversation per contact. Now we have many many conversations per contact. 
You guys really need to make voice calls happen. This should have been made available last year! There are Google credits I've put in that I don't really use as much because I have to wait until I go on my computer to make long distance calls (I'm not in the US so the Google Voice app doesn't work for me...)
Kudos for the merge conversation, I was waiting for this.
Why not voice calls? I don't want to look at people or be seen half the time (ok, I never do, really)
+Dawid Pabian What do you mean by that? Sounds like a problem with your keyboard, not Hangouts. I have no trouble sending messages in Chinese.
Greg H
Option to disable video calls, pls. Too many pocket dials that just annoy everyone in the Hangout. 
λ λθ
has anyone received this update  yet ? 
why aren't there notification buttons in the dropdown yet?  read, reply, call etc.  hangouts needs a popup for SMS; that's the only way i'll ditch 8sms or the stock LG app.
If only there was the same level of focus on performance as there was on features. This app is dog slow, 60 seconds to see a conversation, sometimes longer to send a message.
anyone have an issue where some contacts won't combine sms/hangouts conversations? even though the contact is connected to their google email?
+Onno Benschop I don't have that issue, only on my Note II but that device is broken, every app on that device is painfully slow.
Has this update fixed the bug where entering text into an SMS, with the stock messaging app disabled, causes hangouts to crash?

The android.telephony.CallISmsApp.calculateLength( method seems to be falling over with "TryLooper" methods further down the stack.

Seems to do it on any device that normally has the stock messaging app, including my Galaxy S4, Nexus 4, and Moto X.
I really really really want to be able to switch on a "dark theme" for hangouts. Please?
It's about time. Merged conversations should have been included from the moment that Hangouts was made the default SMS app on the Nexus 5. 
Could you guys be bothered to fix the issue with delayed notifications? Because that would be great.
But did they fix the MMS issues? Can't send multiple pics or download multiple pics without using screenshot. More emoji support would be great too
+Mike Dodd is there any chance that Hangouts will ever have 4.4 immersion mode added? I'd love to see that feature on my Nexus 5 :) 
If I archive my messages too fast this version of Hangouts crashes! Actually, I just noticed that I am having to swipe multiple times to get a hangout to archive.
By and large, Google does some amazing things.  But I really don't understand how some issues linger on without being addressed while new features are added and sweeping changes are made.  I have a text conversation that's been going on since December that averages about 4000 messages per month.  It takes a full 5 seconds for messages to send, and about the same for new messages to appear (Nexus 5).  

I'm fairly confident the company that figured out how to search the entire internet in a few milliseconds can get this fixed if somebody there wanted to fix it...
I'm honestly liking this update. Now I don't have to scroll through the many SMS and chats just to find one person. Yeah, searching hasn't really dawned on me.

Seems good that I'm able to call the contact directly via their mobile number. Hope to see more features come to this app. 
I use SMS Backup to... well, backup my SMS messages to gmail.  I wonder, will this app still work, and if not, will Hangouts automatically archive/save the (SMS) messages in the cloud, like hangouts messages?  I'm fine with either method, but I flash ROMs somewhat frequently, which often involves wiping data, and I need a way to find my old messages.
Hey, +Mike Dodd, nice update! Any word on when I will be able to join a scheduled Hangout from calendar app? Or any other way? The one thing which stops me using it while OoO.
+Mike Dodd can you please add a voice call only button, have been waiting for it since the initial release... Please, not everyone wants to video call. Even Google Talk used to have it.
ok push it now, so you can focus on bringing voice, the clock is ticking and Grove IP like apps will drop support
+Mike Dodd as someone who does release notes for a living, this has been one of the best ones I read! 
I'm so pleased. This release finally fixed the MMS bug that prevented me from sending pictures. This is all I've ever wanted. 
Step in the right direction. Now I only wish I could receive SMS messages through the chrome hangouts app.
Where's the Google Voice integration.
Color/theme customization or as someone stated earlier, add "dark theme" for users with amoled displays at least.
+Mike Dodd Is the padding between the SMS hangouts switch a little off? There seems to be fair more padding between the edge of the screen and the attachment button. 
+Ryan Hayle Nailed it.. If you send an SMS with hangouts, it uses (and shows the recipient of course) the native device SMS service number, not your Google Voice number.. I hope this is not Google trying to bleed users off GV, by making it worse and worse, removing integration, etc.. (Trying to get people to voluntarily stop using the service)
I only need ----〉Voice message,to kill wechat!
P Tufts
A great improvement would be the ability to revert to Google Talk.
does this update already include ability to attach contact the details? and unread message badges like the stock android SMS? 
Delayed messages... up to 12 hours late. I don't know if it's Hangouts or Sprint... but it sure is annoying.
Why can't we send multiple photos at a time? Amazed that something that is so common has yet to be implemented on hangouts
+Ryan Hayle Voice the most +1'ed comment in the thread.  They are totally ignoring us, I think.
More presence indication please
Just wait on the features... I swear some people are never happy. 
"We merged SMS and Hangouts!" 

"Why don't we have more stuff right now???!!! GAWD!!!"
Presence indications isn't a new feature, it's one of the many things they stripped from Talk when making Hangouts
+Alden Darbouze to be fair, at least with Google voice, we just want more transparency. Our official app is old and we feel abandoned and scared
Excellent, flipping between sending a SMS and a Hangout has been such a hassle
There is obvious progress being made. Thank you for this.

Though our communities simply cannot work around the 99 person limit. Until this is increased, I'm afraid that we'll have to find something else 
+William Everette not sure what wow means, but we've had a less than stellar app for years and those of us that embraced the service as a replacement to a traditional number have had little to no updates for years now
How about a search function? Probably one of the things I miss most from the old Messages app
nice another update for Google Hangouts still waiting on the hangouts googlevoice merg!?
For group chats it would be nice with a auto-snooze for notifications... So that I would not be killed by the "PING"-flood of an intense discussion while I am doing other things.. One "PING!!" is enough, then the blinking led and notification bar can do the rest of the work..
Merged conversations is a nice addition. 
I recently noticed that Hangouts added support for '/me' back in the web interface. But it's still missing from Hangouts on Android.

When will this be added back?
Good update, glad to see the threaded conversations finally happened. Just need a few more things then Hangouts can finally get some recognition
1. Need to have hangouts wake the phone similar to what the OEMs stock messenger does
2. Be able to send video clips via Hangouts (only able to do this as mms, although I do know of a decent work around at the moment)
3. Implement a way to make messaging in Hangouts data based (with the phone number I guess since the app “confirms the phone number”) to have data based messaging and having sms as something to fall back on
4. Quick actions (call/ reply/ whatever else appropriate)
I have one contact that refuses to merge into a single thread and I can't see why. It's exactly like all the other contacts I have with G+ linked to the contact. Phone and gmail set in the contact but no dice. It refuses to merge or let me switch from sms to IM in each of the threads for that one person.
+Peter Miller when You use polish characters in sms, You will only get 70 of them in a single sms, without them You can get 160
Guys you need to create an anti spam filter in hangouts. It be very helpful.
I tried google messaging for a bit but there was no line feed/carriage return function so I went back to my stock messaging app. 

David R
Away message? No?

Ability to quickly and easily see who's around and not idle? No?

Oh but you made vague steps toward What'sApp.

:golf clap:
That's what I am talking about ((
Love the new widget functionallity, just what I needed!
+Noah Eisenbruch I don't want anything more than what iOS users already have. I use my phone primarily for talking/texting. If Google wants to keep me on Android, they should tell their Android dev team to get their me together and compete with the same Google services that iOS offers. 
Don't know if it's been already answered, but will Hangouts 2.1 support Dual-Sim smartphones?
So the update is really focused on small things rather than what the user's have been asking for great. 
Excellent! Been using hello sms, but now going back to Hangouts as my default SMS app!
Nice. That was a lot of the features I was waiting for. Merged SMS/hangouts, viewing only phone contacts, and a widget. Hopefully they all work as advertised. Performance improvements is obviously nice too.
Where is the #SEARCH  feature in Hangout? 
How are you suppose to search, in conversation ?
isn't it missing feature, you forgot to take from default messages app ?
Almost there... just need to add notification settings / conversation (besides simple mute and unmute - such as LED color, vibration pattern, ringtone) and I would use it as my SMS app... but not yet.
Why do we still not have video message functionality on the Android version? It was added to the iOS version quite a while ago now. 
.... And still no VoIP calling like iOS
any chance hangouts will ever be getting an unread messages badge count indicator on the app icon??
An expanding compose window to fit the amount of text seems obvious and essential to me, having to scroll up and down to read what I'm composing is totally frustrating, please fix this
How do you expect to compete with WhatsApp when they're going to roll out voice call later this year? Don't get me wrong, I love Hangouts and have been inviting my friends to switch to Hangouts. But what WhatsApp did is just everything better than Hangouts, some even say WhatsApp is the best instant messaging app ever. WhatsApp is just lack of voice/video call, synchonized messages and faster internet backbone. LINE, Viber, WeChat, ChatON, KakaoTalk, Skype, Facebook Messenger and others can't even come close to WhatsApp. I think WhatsApp is truly the expert in mobile messaging.
+William Everette Ah... you make a good point sir. However, I would prefer some sort of color difference, same as the hangout messages I send are in green.
How about not killing the Nexus 4 when it tries to use it for SMS?
+Mike Dodd is it, or will it be possible to choose the profile pic / name in the new hangouts? If I merge sms and hangouts conversations, it defaults to the Google+ details and not my contact details on my phone (specifically the profile pic. Most people don't yet update their Google+ pic as frequently as they update their other online profiles). It's just a bit annoying when I'm used to find a message by the persons profile pic and now I can't because it's different! Any advise / help (other than un- merging them)? 
+Mike Dodd  Nice update however until I can create and save groups for group texting I can't use Hangouts just yet. I'm able to create groups on my LG G2 and then select it when I need to send a text to this group. I can't do that in Hangouts unless I haven't figured it out. Feedback is appreciated. Thanks.
on my nexus 4 with cm11 latest nightly i have a resolution issue with the fonts in the hangouts/sms switch button! help!
sweet. finally. wish you can send videos. i hate doing snap chat or other ones just to do it
Very excited for the new features. But what's up with the profile pictures in the screenshots?
In the first screenshot, a gentleman named Katie asks about the weekend plans. In the second screen, his name is Simon Willow, and in the third screen it's Paul. (Same applies to at least 3 other contacts).

+Mike Dodd +Android 
Need some basic improvements:
1. Multiple photo selection.
2. Refresh Button.
3. List of Active Users.
4. Contacts, Voice Message, Video Message sharing.
Sam X
Not all conversations are merged. Although my contacts have both pH numbers and Google+ in the same contract hangouts doesn't recognise and keeps the conversations split
Chalk up another vote for Google Voice integration.
You know what I would absolutely love +Mike Dodd is the ability to send and receive SMS messages on my android from the hangouts for chrome. If you could pull that off use of hangouts would spread like wildfire..
Not sure why this happens but here goes - I tried to add a new contact on  my phone who wasn't on my hangouts list. I tried to initiate a hangout via the phone, couldn't. Then had to login to the computer, switched on hangouts in Gmail and tried to start a hangout with my friend. Didn't work. The search kept returning people I didn't know.

Finally, I had to go to Google+ and initiate a chat from there.

This is a almost nonsense update, killed notifications of new hangout messages. Tell me one thing, how can a messaging app cannot have notifications. Submitted many requests of Google forum, till now no solution. I use a Nexus 4, has Google stopped supporting Nexus 4. If I have to live with this problem, then I will better find an alternative. So Mr. Google, kindly tell me whether this will have a solution or forget and move on with any other app. Here is the link of the forum on which I've submitted the request, this will give you a broader idea on what exactly the problem is:
if the rest of the hangouts user community is not experiencing the problem, and its just you we need to know your configuration and any changes you have done to you Nexus 4. I have a nexus 4 at home and everything works fine,

Have you made any changes or altered the Nexus 4 in any way?

have you tried unmerging your messages and see if you get the notification? do you have a hangouts sound selected?
I'm using a Nexus 7 2013 Wifi and an Xperia Z1 Compact. Android 4.4 on both. I do not use Hangouts as the default messaging app.

I couldn't initiate the chat on either device.
+Vinod Mahalingam not receiving notifications on most messages... (Verizon S3)... It worked at first.. I have cleared data, reinstaled.. Nothing....
+Mike Dodd On my Nexus 5, I've noticed contacts pictures no longer show in the notification.  It just shows the default blank profile picture.  I hope this is fixed soon as I rely on the contact photo to identify who the message is from.
+Robert Rainwater I also ran into this issue when I merged an SMS conversation with a Hangout with the same person.  While they have a Google profile, they do not have a picture.  For some reason, once merged, Hangouts likes to force the use of their Google profile image above any custom contact image you have for that person, even if they don't have a picture to speak of with Google.

I have a custom picture set to their phone contact (ie: their SMS contact) but if I leave the conversations merged, it doesn't show until I un-merge and go back to separate SMS and Hangouts conversations.
+Mike Dodd I love the new updates! Switching between SMS/MMS and Hangouts messages before seemed a bit clunky and I assumed it was a temporary solution - this is much cleaner! I'm excited for the (rumored) Google Voice integration and it looks like these latest changes will make that transition a bit smoother.
+Shawn Zipay I'm having trouble figuring this one out but it sounds like you have: How do you merge conversations? My SMS and Hangouts conversations with one person were already merged by default. I un-merged them just to see what would happen but now I can't figure out how to put them together again.
+Shawn Zipay Actually, I think I figured it out. I had selected "Un-merge SMS" from the dropdown on a conversation and it separated them. The only way I found to get them back was to un-check "Enable merged conversations" in the settings, then check it again, but that would do it for every conversation, not just the one. +Mike Dodd is this a bug?
+Braden Kelley From the list of conversations within the Hangouts app, long press on one conversation, find the other conversation and then long press on that one.  After both are selected, click the three dots in the top right of the app and select "Merge."
+Shawn Zipay Oh, that's slick. Thanks for the help. Does that mean you can merge conversations from multiple contacts to get a group chat with history? I've been thinking for years that it would be cool if gmail could do that.
+Braden Kelley I think so. I personally haven't tried mixing and matching conversations like that. 
On mine after I selected two conversations the trash icon changed to say "MERGE". Had to long press the first one then short press the second to select both
I guess its a nice update, but I really wish hangouts would work with my Google voice number. I have to use the Google voice app to SMS anyone not on Google or else they see the wrong number. 
What did you do to Hangouts to break compatibility with XVoice+?  This is very frustrating.  It doesn't read text messages in a standard way?  If we had real GV integration this wouldn't be necessary!
It seems that hangouts fixed the notification issue (Phone would be on vibrate, but when a message comes in while music is playing the playback would be interrupted). Now we just need hangouts to wake up the phone like the OEM stock messaging app. Also if I turn the screen on while hangouts is open in a conversation, any messages that comes in will not get a notification. This is on my galaxy s4 running 4.2.2, not sure if KitKat solved it (someone could chip in on this)
Anyone else getting very high battery drain by Hangouts after this update? High Cpu usage while in the background seems to be the cause. 
I can now see the APN settings within Hangouts but I still cannot receive MMS. I've been using 8SMS ever since I got my Nexus 5 device and am considering selling it and moving onto another device because this issue with stock apps not working is a joke already.
Erik L
Still waiting for user specific notification sounds.  Until this happens, I can't use Hangouts for SMS replacement.
I'd love it if Android could manage an incoming call while in a hangouts video chat without simply ringing over the top of the video call and dropping it if I decide to answer the incoming cell call.
Fit consistency sake, it'd be great to get into a contacts detail info by clicking in their thumbnail just like in the phone's call log. Adding that to the people & options page of hangouts would be awesome too...
How about support for secure hangouts?  As of now users have too much power and there is no hangout moderator role. This causes problems:

Anyone in a hangout can add anyone else, even untrusted people.
Anyone can change the hangout name.
There's no way to silence people for low-chatter hangouts.
There's no way to disable picture sharing on a hangout. Anyone can post any picture, and there's no way to remove objectionable pictures from the hangout's G+ picture archive. Hello, unexpectedly NSFW hangouts.
There's no way to kick problem people out of a hangout.

These cause issues when trying to securely communicate with large groups (i.e. Ingress players)
+Aaron Hoye Hangouts has been around forever. They're killing third party apps that allow people to make and receive calls over voice tomorrow. Its been years and those of us who use our voice numbers for work and need to make calls over WiFi (lack of coverage) are getting screwed. Meanwhile you CAN do that using the official Google voice app on iOS. Its like they want us to ditch the Nexus and Android brands.
FORTUNATELY, I am off contract and will switch to iOS this week as soon as I can.
Yeah, I like the new hangouts so much I deleted it from every last device I own. As I did the useless Google+. At least Google+ never tried to ring a Google Voice call through to my iPad during a customer meeting -- after I'd gone to the trouble to mute my phones. Google, stick to search and Android. They're the only things you do acceptably well.

Oh, and if you trash Voice? I'll decommission my android phones and get an iPhone, as much as I hate Apple.
"Although it doesn’t appear the option to make VoIP calls using your Google Voice number is making the cut (...)" :(
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