Hangouts 4.0 – The Evolution
This big update for Hangouts is the update to its material design, and it has brought about many desirable changes. The journey to the 4.0 Update has been a long one. In the earlier days, it had a sliding panel for conversation and then it moved on to a green palette, with a floating action (FAB) button. Next, it evolved to bring in the drawer toggle for navigation, some additional iconography. There were also new avatars and today it has finally reached 4.0 Update from the 2.0. The speed of this change hasn’t exactly been a breakneck one, as it has taken a year and nine months for this progression from 2.0 to 4.0.
FAB – An Improvement
The FAB –floating action button in the 4.0 Update has brought about an end to the contacts tab that was a separate tab. The FAB is very usually, as the main action of the screen is for conversations. Hence, you have options to switch from frequent contacts, or to start a new group, send an SMS and to have a video conversation. The FAB does not respond to scrolling but remains in a corner and even blocks out some words from the last message of the list. There are other small buttons for speed dial, and the entire FAB offers a good improvement when compared to the previous navigation model.
There were more floating buttons in the previous versions of the 4.0. Even now, the FAB for beginning new group conversations remains, though the one for sending messages is no longer present. It’s not gone but comes in a normal button size.
Reminders – Alerting the User
Another change in the 4.0 version is that users are alerted to the ongoing setting, namely the account from which they send a specific message, if notifications are turned off during a particular conversation and soon. The snackbar present on the screen sends alerts to users regarding the account into which they have logged in, instead of the account name present in the toolbar along with the avatar. The message descends and offers the information, coming down in a snackbar form. Users will probably tire of these alerts popping up from either side of the screen. This feature is very useful if the user has several accounts, as they can ensure the account from which they are logging in when they start a chat or a conversation. Otherwise, it is not very important.
Control in Features
The design is particularly good, as it does not include some unnecessary design aspects, such as color. The FAB has changed its color from the previous minty green, and the size is smaller. The emoji button present incomposing is no longer there, and the outgoing messages no longer appear in green, but in gray. The reminders are also gentler and more restrained, rather than flashy.
The best thing about the Google Hangouts app is that you can text friends without payment. You can also make free calls; with free multi video calls as well so that it is possible to have many people in a single video call.
However, the problem with the Google Hangouts app is that you must have Google accounts for using it. It is not possible to chat with a person who does not have an account.