Google attends to neglected Android users with Hangouts 4.0 update

When I need to communicate with friends, family or colleagues, I often turn to Hangouts. The reason why is simple - most of them have Gmail accounts, which in turn, means they can be contacted on Hangouts too.

Not to mention, the service is available for all platforms, except the lowly Windows Phone, of course.

Unfortunately, the Android app has been lagging behind for a while now. For whatever reason, the iOS version has been superior, in both usability and appearance. This has now changed, as Google has finally paid attention to Android users and delivers Hangouts 4.0.

"The best conversations just flow: you barely have to think about what to say. With Hangouts, we want to help you stay in the moment, no matter what device you're using or how you're getting your voice across, from texting to talking to video. So we've been hard at work on big improvements to make Hangouts faster, simpler, and easier on the eyes", says Amit Fulay, Product Manager, Communications, Google.

The search giant shares three major changes in 4.0.

Hangouts is sleeker. Now updated with material design, Hangouts has a new look and feel: items respond to your touch in more intuitive ways and transitions between tasks are more fluid. Hangouts is simpler. The new Compose button makes it easier for you to start a new group or conversation. Our streamlined contacts list helps you find the right person quickly. And attachments have been revamped and simplified, so sharing - of emoji, GIFs, your location, even multiple photos at once - is a snap. Hangouts is faster. Whether you're sending a quick message or video chatting with family, you don’t want hold-ups. We've been obsessively fixing bugs and speeding up message delivery to make Hangouts faster and more reliable. Bonus: less battery consumption.

While the update is appreciated, it is mind-boggling as to why Google waited so long to deliver this important update. You would assume that Android loyalists would be the first to get the prettier Hangouts, but iOS users have been enjoying it already. Why neglect your biggest fans, Google?

If you are a Google Voice user (another neglected service and Android app), you can now get group MMS on Hangouts and reply to them too. More interesting, however, is the improved Android Wear experience, where you can start a Hangouts message by speaking to your watch.

Are you excited for Hangouts 4.0 on Android? If so, you do not have to wait long. It is rolling out now in waves, so you should see it in the Play Store soon.