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The genesis of Google Hangouts

From +Ars Technica's (updated) History of Android:

One of the biggest things announced at [Google I/O 2013] was an update to Google Talk, Google's instant messaging platform. For a long time, Google shipped four text communication apps for Android: Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Messaging (the SMS app), and Google Voice. Having four apps that accomplished the same task—sending a text message to someone—was very confusing for users. At I/O, Google killed Google Talk and started their messaging product over from scratch, creating Google Hangouts. While initially it only replaced Google Talk, the plan for Hangouts was to unify all of Google's various messaging apps into a single interface.

Of course, here we are today with Hangouts, Google Messenger, Allo and Duo ...

The layout of the Hangouts UI really wasn't drastically different from Google Talk. The main page contained your open conversations, and tapping on one opened a chat page. The design was updated, the chat page now used a card-style display for each paragraph, and the chat list was now a "drawer"-style interface, meaning you could open it with a horizontal swipe. Hangouts had read receipts and a typing status indicator, and group chat was now a primary feature.

Google+ was the center of Hangouts now, so much so that the full name of the product was actually "Google+ Hangouts." Hangouts was completely integrated with the Google+ desktop site so that video and chats could be made from one to the other. Identity and avatars were pulled from Google+, and tapping on an avatar would open that person's Google+ profile. And much like the change from Browser to Google Chrome, core Android functionality was passed off to a separate team—the Google+ team—as opposed to being a side product of the very busy Android engineers. With the Google+ takeover, Android's main IM client now became a continually developed application. It was placed into the Play Store and received fairly regular updates.

But Hangouts started separating from Google+ in 2014, so that exclusivity didn't last very long long. And now, with the new Google+ UI, the separation is finally complete.

About the launch of Google Hangouts:

Read the whole History of Android:
Follow the endless iterations from Android 0.5 to Android 7 and beyond.
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