Google has released a new major update for its Android chat application, Android Police reports, including several interesting features. Hangouts 2.1 for Android brings SMS improvements and a homescreen widget, Google’s Mike Dodd wrote on Google+, with the main feature of this update being Merged conversations. Starting with Hangouts 2.1, SMS and Hangouts conversations with the same recipient will be merged into a single conversation. A switch will let users choose what kind of message they want to send, and different message types will be easily spotted.
The Homescreen widget will let users add a Hangouts widget to their homescreen for quick access to the application. Hangouts 2.1 will also offer users a simplified contact list that will feature two main sections, including People you Hangout With and Phone Contacts, for quicker access.
Other features include performance improvements for voice calls, as well as SMS and MMS messages.
Android Police has also noticed in Hangouts 2.1 for Android support for displaying a status in chats, a new notification sound, separate voice and video call tones and support for saving media files shared in chats via a long press on a file.
The application should be rolling out from the Google Play Store in the following weeks. Meanwhile, Android Police already has the APK available for download.
Screenshots from the new Hangouts app follow below.