Google Hangouts Desktop App Gets Major Redesign

Check out the new version of Google Hangouts that got a major redesign with floating chat heads. But how Google deployed it makes me wonder.

I use Google Hangouts a lot.  I use it personally for chats and SMS with friends and family.  We also use it at Gate6 for team chat, video calls, phone calls, etc.  For this reason, I’m very excited when there is a new version, especially one that has a nice redesign.

Well, now there is a new version of Google Hangouts that got a major redesign.  But, how Google deployed it makes me wonder.

How to Get the New Google Hangouts

I only noticed the new version after installing the Hangouts Chrome app on a new computer.  When I went back to my computer, it wasn’t updated.  I tried to force update all extensions and relaunched Chrome, but I couldn’t get it.

So, then I just went to the Google Hangouts website and clicked the button to download for your computer.  It installed the new version alongside the old version!

I was surprised to see that the new version is a completely separate app instead of simply an upgrade of the existing app.   It’s also odd that the new version seems to have a lower version number.

The New Hangouts Desktop App Redesign

So let’s take a look at the new Hangouts.

Hangouts no longer resides in the Chrome toolbar or the Windows system tray.  Now, it is launched from the Google app launcher and runs in the background without even having Chrome open.

The look and feel got a big upgrade with the new floating chat heads UI that looks very similar to Facebook Messenger on Android.

You can drag the Hangouts logo anywhere on your desktop and it will always float in front of anything you put it over.

One thing I really like about this design is that chat windows that you want to keep open for a while don’t have to take up so much space.  This new design is very clean.  If you click off of a chat window, it automatically minimizes into chat head.

Notifications also look very nice with a speech bubble that shows next to the chat head momentarily and a number counter on each chat head that shows the number of unread messages.

Give it a Try

If you want to take the new Hangouts out for a spin, just visit the Google Hangouts website using the Chrome browser and click the button to download for your computer.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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