Google’s Google+ event has finally kicked off after some delays and they’ve started things off by announcing some big feature updates to Hangouts on Android. Vic Gundotra detailed the feedback that users have been given Google concerning the new app that launched earlier on in the year. Since replacing Google Talk, Hangouts has changed the way we chat online, and it’s even changed how iOS and Android users talk to each other. It’s certainly simplified things, that’s for sure. Well, today Google is announcing some new features coming to Hangouts. Location Sharing, Animated GIFs and SMS Support.
Starting with the big one, SMS support is coming to Hangouts with an update slated for release today. Bringing SMS support to Hangouts almost makes the app a de facto messaging app for the vast majority of users on Android. While it still doesn’t connect to iMessage, WhatsApp, BBM et al but, SMS is still a pretty big deal. It’s a standard, and everyone can get an SMS as long as you have their number, so now Hangouts can contact pretty much all of your contacts, as well as those online.
Another requested feature coming to Hangouts is Animated GIFs. The Auto Awesome feature made waves earlier in the year as it made animated GIFs out of a series of photos and now, you’ll be able to share these through Hangouts on Android. Not only those that you’ve been creating yourself, but those funny GIFs we’re always swapping with friends, the in-jokes and the memes. Now these can be shared in conversations using Hangouts.
Topping things off, Location Sharing is finally coming to Hangouts, which should help to alleviate the pain of losing Google Latitude. It’s pretty simple, too. Where the camera is in the UI, there’s now the familiar Maps pin that you simply press to share your location with others. There’s no word on exactly when the update is coming but, “today” is the word Vic used on stage so, look for an update for Hangouts later today.