The rebranding will focus on two popular features
Google's largely-failed social media experiment, Google+, is reportedly approaching a transformation, with a renewed focus on Photos and Hangouts. The two popular features appear to be splitting apart from the central service, marking the first step in an apparent rebranding effort that is likely aimed at revitalizing -- or quietly killing -- the stagnate social network.
Google Hangouts updated for iOS, adds ability to see SMS and Voicemails from Google Voice account
Hangouts, Google's messaging app, has received an update for iOS devices. Hangouts allows users to send and receive messages, photos and more, and make video and voice calls with a group or one-on-one. Hangouts v2.5.0 features new sticker packs, and improved video call experience alongside miscellaneous bug fixes.
Standalone Hangouts app runs independently of Chrome browser
Google is bringing Hangouts more in line with competing messaging services, such as Skype or AIM, by releasing a dedicated desktop app for Hangouts. The Hangouts Chrome App, available on Chrome OS and Windows, will provide a similar experience to the Android version, including calls and messaging, but through a desktop interface.
Addition to Hangouts signals impending end of Google Voice
Google Voice is being integrated into Google Hangouts on Android, in what appears to be an an attempt by the search company to streamline its messaging services. Previously only available in the iOS version of Hangouts, the Android app now gives the option of making or receiving voice calls, text messages, and the ability to access voicemails on Google Voice.
Plug-in brings Google video call functionality to Outlook, Chromeboxes
Last week, Google announced that it has released a new extension that allows Microsoft Outlook users to participate in a Google Hangout. The plug-in will allow users who don't use Google's apps for their primary communications outlet the ability to participate in video chat without the need to pay for a Google Apps for Business account.
Sony Smartwatch 2 updated, features customizable watch face editor
Sony has announced an update for its Android-based Smartwatch 2, adding a customizable watch face editor. Various widgets can be selected that include date, weather, calendar, Bluetooth, notifications, and more, with third-party developers welcomed to create new content. The Smartwatch 2 now has a built-in calculator app featured in the new update, as well as improved Gmail and Facebook apps. Featuring six new wallpaper options, the watch offers a new low-light double tap function that increases the display's brightness by thirty percent when touched. According to Sony's blog post, new options and further developments are on the horizon.
Google+ Hangouts for iOS adds iOS7 optimization, video messaging
Messaging app Google+ Hangouts has received an update for iOS devices. Google+ Hangouts features free group audio calling with up to 10 people, and phone calls can be made through the app for free to numbers in the US and Canada. Now optimized for use on iPad, users of v2.0 can access picture-in-picture video calling as well as record and send video messages up to 10 seconds long. The app has been updated to reflect iOS 7, and has the addition of shareable animated stickers for expressing feelings and sending a map of one's current location. Google+ Hangouts is free to download, and is available on iTunes.
Google bringing KitKat functionality to all devices
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.
Hangout-based support charged per minute, per hangout
Google has opened up its Hangouts-based video support service to the general public. Google Helpouts, a service that was accepting applications by experts to offer their advice to others in late August, is now allowing users to search for and pay for a video conference with an expert to help them with a specific task or for general advice.
Google launches Connected Classrooms initiative
Google has introduced a new initiative, Connected Classrooms, that aims to enable "virtual field trips" via Google+ Hangouts. Upcoming events include sessions from the Seattle Aquarium and the Minnesota Zoo, along with a program "from the cockpit of a solar plane."
Social network brings slew of new features
Google has invited media to San Francisco to highlight a slew of new features that are headed to the company's social network. Many of the Google+ updates focus on photography, expanding manual and automatic enhancement tools, along with new effects for saved videos or live Hangouts feeds.
Google's communication platform continues integration
Google has updated the iOS version of its Google Hangouts app to include integration with its the search giant's Google Voice Internet telephone service. The new version allows users to call numbers from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch for free if the number is within the United States or Canada. Google has added this capability to the iOS version of Hangouts before the feature has even made it into the Android version.
Google Talk bug sends messages to multiple Hangouts users
Users of Google Hangouts are finding that messages are being routed to the wrong recipients. Messages sent from Google Talk clients to Hangouts users are reportedly being received by other Hangouts contacts than the intended message target, writes TechCrunch. Google has since released a statement, advising that it is "investigating reports of an issue with Google Talk" and asks users to check the App Status Dashboard for future updates.
Video support system to offer free, chargeable sessions from experts
Google has quietly launched a version of its Hangouts video conferencing system for support services. Helpouts will allow professionals and skilled individuals to offer advice and support for a number of subjects over video and audio to their customers, with the addition of charging a fee to the viewer for the support session.
Google Hangouts app for iOS gets an update
Yesterday Google's social messenger, Hangouts, received an update to v1.1 for iOS users. Google+ Hangouts allows users to have one-on-one or group conversations while sharing photos, emoji, and video calls. The app stays in sync across devices for versatility for consistent communication. The updated version includes bug fixes, support for iOS 6.0, ability to invite friends to Hangouts via SMS, and improvements to the badge count. Hangouts 1.1 is available for free in the iTunes store.
Google+ Hangouts to gain SMS integration, outbound calls, Google Voice
The new Google+ Hangouts app will soon have SMS integration, though this is likely to be only within Android. The Next Web notes that the permissions list for the app includes listings for reading and sending SMS messages from within the app, something which would bring Hangouts in line with Apple's iMessage app. A message by Google employee Dori Storibeck confirmed that SMS integration is on the way, along with outbound calls and Google Voice features.
Hangouts conversations to carry between iOS, Android, Web
Google has shown a significant number of changes to Google+ at its Google I/O developer event, as part of its attempts to attract users. The redesign of the social network is accompanied by the rumored unified messaging system, branded Hangouts, and the automatic enhancement, editing and highlighting of photographs uploaded onto its service.
Unified messaging service could be formally revealed next week
Google will be unveiling its unified messaging system at Google I/O, according to a report. The name Babel will be retired in favor of Google Hangouts, the same name as its Google+ video-based chat-room system, as the search engine continues to try and encourage its users to use the Google-produced social network and surrounding ecosystem.
Google adds remote desktop feature to Google+ Hangouts
Google+ users can now remotely control a desktop in Hangouts, something suggested by the company to help in long-distance technical support. The feature uses the same background tech from Chrome Remote Desktop, according to Google staffer Daniel Caiafa in a Google+ update. When enabled from the Apps section, Hangouts Remote Desktop will ask permission to allow the other user to control the computer, while still allowing both sides to talk and see each other throughout the control session.
Facebook adds VoIP calling to Android app in US.
Facebook has enabled its free voice calling feature in Facebook Messenger to Android users in the United States and around the world, months after the iOS version. After an initial roll-out in Canada and the UK, the Android version of Facebook Messenger allows users to tap the 'i' button on a contact, and then offers the Free Call option. The sudden release of the feature in the US follows the launch of the Facebook Home launcher, which introduces an Android overlay that allows for greater use of the social network.
Cross-platform system to consolidate existing IM systems
Google is looking towards unifying its messaging platforms into one single service, according to rumors. Called Babble, the new service would provide cross-platform communications between the various Google services, such as Google Talk, Google Hangouts, and Google Voice, replacing them all with a single common method.
Refined single-participant live video broadcasting in Google+
Google has updated the Hangouts feature of Google+ that will help one-person broadcasts. Hangouts On Air will now default to a full-screen single-camera video for broadcasts, instead of showing a large image with a smaller thumbnailed view in the camera roster below, something which apparently has been added after numerous requests from users.