Google Hangouts 2.1 for Android merges IM and SMS

Google has updated Hangouts for Android, with v2.1 further blending SMS and Hangout conversations, likely much to the chagrin of carriers. Hangouts 2.1 – which will roll out in the Google Play store over the coming days, Google says – now merges text message and Hangouts chat into a single thread, with a toggle to control whether new replies go out over SMS or through Google's IM service.

Google also supports unmerging of conversations, if you'd rather keep SMS and Hangouts separate.

Meanwhile, the IM app also gets a more streamlined contacts list, split into two sections for "Hangout With" and "Phone Contacts"; Google says this should make it easier to navigate. SMS and MMS reliability are also said to have been improved in this version, too.

There's also a new homescreen widget, for accessing recent conversations without navigating via the app first, and video call quality has been boosted too.

Google launched its new UI for Hangouts back in February, in addition to adding stickers support. The app was finally designed with both phones and tablets in mind, and short video messages – up to ten seconds in length – were enabled.

For carriers, it's further evidence that Google would prefer Android users to route their everyday conversations over data services rather than the historical cash-cow of SMS.

Hangouts 2.1 for Android will be showing up as an update over the next few days.

SOURCE Google Play