Google has announced a new Hangout stand-alone app, at the annual Google I/O developer conference integrating various communication services into the cross-platform Hangout app.
Within the Hangout app, users can view their conversations in a single location, including one-on-one and group conversations. Essentially, the Hangout app integrates various communication outlets, including text conversations, images and video chatting into the same service.
When opening the Hangout app, users will view all of their conversations in a stream. When a user opens a conversation their Google+ profile image will immediately be shown at the bottom of the feed to indicate they are active in the chat. The stream is interactive in that it always displays who is in the chat and includes various animations such as a bubble that pops up when someone is typing and read receipts for each user.
The app also stores the conversation’s history and photos shared in the communication stream to an album within Google+.
While the Hangout app adds a lot of communication features, in doesn’t forget about the original Hangout video-calling feature. Within a communication thread, users are able to click on the video in the upper right hand corner, and everyone active in the chat is immediately entered into a video-chat.
The Hangout app is available now on the web, Android and iOS platforms, making it a direct competitor to services like WhatsApp and the cross-platform BBM service that BlackBerry announced yesterday.
Google also announced various upgrades to the Google+ service and 41 new features, including a newly redesigned stream, which will begin rolling out today. The new streams are multicolumn, with column numbers changing based on screen-size. The new stream also features a more fluid design, animation and cards.
The company also added instant upload and image editing to the list of photo features within Google+. Users can now edit images with features such as auto-enhance and face recognition. Google also added a feature that selects the best photo in a bunch, taking into account picture quality (blurriness, duplicates, people or objects out of frame, even famous landmarks). Google also introduced a feature called “Auto-Awesome,” which takes a series of images taken in succession and turns them into a GIF.
The Google+ updates will begin rolling out today.