Version 1.3.0 of Google Hangouts is now available for iOS and includes big improvements such as in-app ViOP calls and other features that make the app easier to use as well as much more accessible and practical.
The knockout feature of this update is the possibility to make low-cost calls to other Apple users: in the United States and Canada this feature will be totally free, and the rest of the world can make calls to their iOS contacts for 0.12 cents per minute.
The next big improvement is being able to find out which contacts have Hangouts and which don’t, as well as who is online and who has disconnected, when someone is typing, and whether they have seen your message. This keeps you from sending messages to users that don’t have the app and will thus receive your message as an email, and from having to endure those long agonizing waits to find out if someone has read your message.
The update also fixes bugs, such as the one that caused any music you were playing to suddenly cut off when you received a message in Hangouts; this update simply makes the music go a bit quieter. In addition, you can now send to your contacts animated gifs that can be properly viewed on your friends’ devices.
These, and other smaller improvements (such as the option to view older conversations or the images sent to each contact), make this latest version of Hangouts a much more practical app than it has been up till now.