By Alexandra Burlacu | Feb 28, 2014 07:05 AM EST
Hangouts for iOS has received a new update that brings a complete overhaul, making the app more similar to other popular messaging services.
The new version of the iOS app now comes with tabs along the bottom of the screen, showing categories such as Hangouts, Favorites, and Contacts, similarly to how Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp look.
"Today we're launching the newest version of Hangouts for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, ready to download now on iTunes," Google's Frank Petterson announced in a Google+ post on Thursday, Feb. 27. "The app has a brand new look and feel, is super easy to navigate, and includes a bunch of performance improvements. You can still make free voice and video calls, of course. Or send a quick photo. But we're adding a few more features we think you'll love."
The new Hangouts for iOS now comes with several features that were already present in other messaging apps, including the ability to record and send videos, stickers, or share your location by sending a map within a conversation. The app has always supported video calls, but the previous version only allowed users to send photos, not videos.
The new version is also optimized for the iPad and iOS 7 and includes two panes, allowing users to chat on one side of the screen and scroll through other Hangouts or contacts on the other. The previous version of the iPad Hangouts app had only one screen without tabs along the bottom.
Most of these new features, including the location sharing one, were already available for the Android version of the app, and now iOS users finally get access to them as well. The Android and iOS apps still look and feel quite different, but they're now on a more level playing field.
The update brings Hangouts for iOS to version 2.0 and marks a great change over the previous version. Messaging apps have grown increasingly popular and Facebook's recent monster acquisition of standalone messaging service WhatsApp heats up competition even further.
To get the very last version of Hangouts for iOS, head over to the App Store at this link and download the app for free. The application requires iOS 6 or later.