Google Hangouts 2.0 is here with iOS 7 design, iPad optimization, animated stickers, and more!

Google Hangouts, the combination instant messaging (IM), video, audio, and VoIP calling app for iPhone and iPad, has been updated to version 2.0. That means an iOS 7 make-over, iPad optimization, 10-second audio recordings, and most importantly — animated stickers! (Joking! The most important update is the ability to vanquish the appalling shake-to-send feedback non-feature!)

The original Hangouts on iOS is a mixed blessing. It's amazing for group messages since you can tell who in the group has actually seen your messages. It's also incomparable for video conferencing, easily handling multiple participants at once (and for free). Yet at the same time it feels like a web app in a thin native wrapper. Hangouts 2.0 fixes some of that. It's not perfect yet — some of the interface is directly manipulable, some of it isn't. That it's getting better is a good sign, however.

Google still values iPhone and iPad owners' attention and since communications is the hottest thing in mobile right now — just ask WhatsApp, it's where a lot of developer attention will go as well, big and small.

If you've tried Google Hangouts 2.0 on your iPhone or iPad let me know what you think of the update!