Late last month, Google announced that they would be overhauling the UI of the Hangouts extension that is available for Chrome. This was a bit surprising, considering many thought that Google would be putting all of their resources into Allo – their new messaging app that is due to launch this fall. However, that appears to not be the case, and now the new Hangouts extension is live in the Google Chrome store, it was updated on September 8th.
For many, the extension may not seem all that new. That is because the extension basically became the Hangouts app for Chrome. It now runs in a separate window and has an icon in your menubar, or taskbar (depending on the OS you are using). It looks identical to the Chrome app for Hangouts, which may not be a bad thing, but it does certainly make you wonder why they both exist? It's a single-window app, which can become a bit annoying for those that talk to quite a few people, but it does make things easier than having multiple windows open in your Google+, Gmail or Inbox tabs, so there's that.
If you haven't been using the Google Chrome extension, you can grab it from the link in the source section below. If you do have the extension installed already, it should be updating fairly soon. Google did note in their original blog post on August 25th, that this would become the default extension for everyone as of October 31st, and the rollout is going to be a pretty slow one. But if you don't want to wait for the rollout to hit your computers, you can always uninstall the extension and re-install it. It's quick and painless, for the most part. And because you are logged into Chrome, there's no need to log in to the Hangouts extension, making it a pretty seamless install.
Hangouts appears to still be getting quite a bit of work done, and new features added in. Despite the fact that Allo is indeed coming pretty soon – likely on October 4th with a number of other Google products that are rumored to be released that day.