Google updates Hangouts interface, adds notifications

An updated sidebar, colorful notifications and Hangout apps make it into the refreshed interface.

Casey Newton Former Senior Writer
Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.
Casey Newton
The new sidebar in Hangouts.
The new sidebar in Hangouts. Google

Google rolled out some changes to the Google+ interface today designed to make the video chat service better looking and easier to use.

Amit Fulay, the Hangouts product manager, described the changes in a post on Google+:

1. A sidebar you can show or hide. The most important part of a hangout is the people in the room, so we've consolidated important items (like invites, chat, and apps) into a sidebar that's there when you need it, and tucked away when you don't.

2. Clean, colorful notifications. Alerts now appear in red, actions in blue, and announcements in grey, making it easier to read and respond to notifications while you're inside the hangout.

3. Apps that are easier to find and manage. The sidebar contains your frequently-used apps, as well as other ones active in the hangout. And you can also remove apps from the sidebar at any time."

The update began rolling out today, but not everyone will see it until tomorrow or the next day, Fulay said.