Google+ Hangouts gets private chats, history, and an app

Google's Google+ Hangouts group chat and video feature now supports one-to-one chats and a full history feature to go back in time.

James Martin/CNET

Google's Hangouts group chat feature is now a little more useful, with one-on-one conversations, a way to look back at chat history, and a standalone app for people who want to use Hangouts as a general communications tool.

New in the chat service, which is a headlining feature of Google's Google+ social network, is a way to do one-on-one chats with people during a group chat. Google is calling the new feature facetoface, and hopes it will get more people to use Google+ instead of jumping to another communication service.

James Martin/CNET

Google has also added a way to go back and see the entire history of a conversation, including text and photos. This can be turned off or cleared, though Google is pitching it as a way for people to quickly get up to speed on a group chat they might not have been a part of, and to pull up old entries.

Other additions include photos and emoji, and a back-end change that will get rid of notifications for a Hangout invite on other devices if you've accepted an invite elsewhere.

The changes were unveiled in San Francisco on Wednesday, during Google's keynote address at I/O, the company's annual developers conference.

Google hopes these new features and adjustments will de-fragment the Google+ Hangouts experience across devices. The company says the changes are arriving on the Web, and as free, standalone apps headed to Android and iOS.

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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