Google Hangouts on Android phones will now have SMS merged with the Hangouts conversations. This is version 2.1.075.
SMS and Hangout conversations with the same recipient are now combined into a single conversation. You can control whether you want to send a message via Hangouts or SMS with the flip of a switch, and different message types will be easy to tell apart in the conversation. Of course, you can always merge and unmerge conversations if you’d like. However, unlike Apple’s iMessage, there’s no option to use Hangouts with SMS as a fallback option.
The contact list is simpler in this version, with just two categories: People you Hangout With, and Phone Contacts.
One is not sure how urgently the users felt the need for such a change. Merged conversations as well as the new contact list can be annoying, depending on how you feel about Hangouts increasingly taking over all your communications on your Android device.
The update includes better quality video calls, as well as improved SMS and MMS reliability.
It’s a gradual rollout; hence, users may not have received an update notification in their phones. The new version will be available this week, informs Google engineer Mike Dodd. The new version will be available in the Play store (http://goo.gl/6Sv8V) this week, informs Google+.
Google also promises that “different message types will be easy to tell apart in the conversation”. A small “via SMS” label appears below texted replies.Sent Hangout messages are green; sent SMS messages white.
Google has also added a home screen widget for quick access to the conversations.
Google had released version 2.0 of Hangouts for Android in November 2013. That was naturally a much bigger release, as it included SMS support (as well as MMS support on Android 4.0 and up), animated GIFs, and one-tap location sharing.
Users that don’t like the merged view can revert back to the old style to keep things separate.