Google on Thursday released new versions of both its Hangouts
communications suite and the Google Keyboard
, bringing both of those apps to par with the versions shown off as part of Android 4.4 KitKat
. The Hangouts app, in particular, saw the largest update, with Google bringing SMS and MMS messaging functionality to that app. Users can now receive text and picture messages sent to their regular phone numbers in the Hangouts app.
Hangouts version 2.0 – now available for devices running Android 4.0 or higher – also allows users to import the text messages that are already on their device. Google is thought to be working on integrating its Google Voice telephony service for Android devices as well, as that feature has already appeared
for Hangouts on devices running iOS.
In addition to the new mobile messaging options, Hangouts also allows for animated GIFs to display within the app automatically, without users having to switch over to a browser in order to view them. It also brings location sharing and status updates, displaying what device a user is on, whether they are on a call, and even their mood if desired.
The new update to the Google Keyboard rationalizes punctuation across different device sizes, meaning that the keyboard will display standard layouts across 4-inch, 7-inch, and 10-inch devices. It also has added space-aware gesture typing, meaning that users will not have to lift a finger while gesture typing and can instead swipe over the space bar.
The two updates are available in the Google Play Store, both for free. Hangouts version 2.0
varies in download size depending on device type. It requires an Android device running version 2.3 Gingerbread or higher. Google Keyboard
also varies in size depending on the device, and it requires a device running Android 4.0 or higher.