Google has just begun rolling out an update to Hangouts on Android and desktop that tweaks how unread messages are handled within the flow of a conversation and makes it easier to jump right back into the action after an absence. Before, leaving a conversation and coming back later meant that you had to manually find where you were in the conversation before you can get a handle on what's going on and continue. Hangouts now handles this for you by giving you the option to jump to the last message you read, making it easier to catch up. While you're catching up, you may notice that the ticker that shows you how many messages you've missed out on has been redesigned to fit in more naturally with the rest of the UI, while also sitting at the bottom of the window and letting you know how many messages you still have left to read as you scroll down.
The update will roll out rather quickly to all Android and desktop Hangouts users, with Google projecting that everybody should be able to see the update within the next three days or so, but it may take a bit longer for some users. Google did not state if the update will require an app update through the Play Store or if the changes will be server-side for Android users. The update is rolling out a little more quickly to all iOS users, and should already be available for all users on all ecosystems, from the iPod Touch to the iPad Pro.
This update comes on the heels of Google doubling up their efforts on their Allo chat app, including the indication that there will be a desktop client soon. That, and the fact that news of this update comes on the G Suite update blog, points to Google's determination to make Allo the consumer option and reshape Hangouts for business users. This is part of a larger overarching effort by Google to separate business and end-user products, rather than having a single ecosystem for all of their users. While the transition can be jarring for those who have been entrenched in Google's ecosystem for a few years or longer, the end goal is to fit all users in all sectors to the products that best fit their use cases.