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!
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.