If a new report from Florian Kiersch proves correct, Google is testing out a new Hangouts experience code-named Ultra Violet. Reportedly the new experience includes several visual changes such as Facebook-esque Chatheads floating icons. While the images above come from Hangouts for desktop (via a Chrome extension), it’s also likely some of these visual changes could make their way to the Android app as well.

As you can tell by the screenshots, certain Hangout elements remain the same, though this is still a pretty big departure from Hangouts current look. Kiersch says the experience is still very much in the experimental stages and that it relies on extension APIs in the Chrome’s developer channel. There’s also likely some bugs and other kinks to work out.


So how confident are we that these images are legit? While nothing is 100% certain, it’s important to note that Kiersch has revealed several work-in-progress Google projects in the past, including Google Stars. That means his track record is pretty clean, which lends credence to this rumored cosmetic overhaul.

It’s unclear if there are any other major changes planned outside of the obvious aesthetic ones, though we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more details. What do you think of the new look, based on what we currently know?

Andrew Grush
Andrew is one of the three Managing Editors of Android Authority, primarily responsible for the overseeing of US team of writers, in addition to several other projects such as VR Source and more. He loves tech, gaming, his family, and good conversations with like-minded folks.
  • Carlos Lopez

    I sure hope so the current hangouts (while I do use it as my only texting/im client) is very dull

    • Dion Creighton

      Handcent SMS just got updated and it’s pretty cool!

      • SamLehman617

        Still looks like vomit. They need a new designer…badly.

  • JSo

    About time!

  • Eric Miller

    What they call it is irrelevant, The UI overhaul is old news announced at IO.

  • Jakkim

    New interface is good but they should improve the performance first. Its very laggy, sms don’t work as they should and online messages take several hours to arrive on destination.
    It’s better to use a standalone sms app and an online alternative like whatsapp or any other similar.

    • JSo

      Are you sure it’s just not your phone? This is the firs I have heard about these problems.

      • Tierre Jevon

        Hangouts can get very laggy when using SMS so I have to make sure to keep the volume down. The only reason I choose to use this over stock messaging on Note 3 is because every emoji sent, must be sent as a MMS. I had more than 50 conversations open with hundreds of threads before they automatically delete older messages and never experienced any lag or performance issues.

        It only occurs when using SMS and I’m not the only as my cousin has stopped using the app on his G2 and my Fiancé on her S5. Oh and sometimes the messages refuse to sync between my Nexus 7 and Note 3.

        But as I said, if I manage my inbox then I rarely ever run into issues. They need to revamp the UI because it is boring. I’ve been contemplating going back to stock messaging because of how dull it is and not as intuitive to use as stock.

    • John Doe

      Maybe it is your carrier/phone, etc.. I use Hangout too, and I do not have any issues ..

  • Sal

    Well that’s good. Hopefully it is material design look.

    • i_say_uuhhh

      Agreed, the current Ui is really boring to look at.

  • Denis94

    I hope you will be on your desktop, you can write sms.

    • Demarcus Seaborn

      That’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for. Why not have it like iMessage where you receive all your messages on all your devices. I think this should be the next step for Hangouts.

    • travis91

      Get the app mighty text. Absolutely love it! Let’s you do that.

      • JSo

        Mighty Text is awesome. There are also some SMS apps that add the reply from desktop feature that Pushbullet offers.

    • Mark G

      You can do that if you have Google + on your desktop

      • Karl Dagenais

        You can send hangouts messages, but not SMS, from webview.

    • Will

      Just use Endless Jabber

  • Jayfeather787

    This looks very cool.

  • Kenny Rousseau

    Ooooh, can’t wait~

  • John DeLong

    I just want my SMS when I’m in chrome to give me more reason to integrate.

    • Dion Creighton

      Handcent SMS now allows u to text from computer. I’ve been using it at work without taking out my phone, lmao

    • johnny

      use pushbullet. all notifications (including sms) can be shown on desktop via pushbullet chrome extension. In addition tool allows two way data transfer to and from phone. easy to share a web link, travel map from google and so on.

  • crutchcorn

    I like the look of it. :) However, I can’t help but wonder about Material Design….

  • Karly Johnston

    Does it include GV integration? No?? Then I couldn’t care less.

    • Ichi

      I’m currently using grooveip’s service as outgoing call but it’s not my gv number which sucks because I keep having to explain to people that I have another number for calling, but then I always text using my gv number.

      Hopefully this fall’s android L upgrade will finally merge gv with hangouts. Otherwise I’d be pissed.

  • gommer strike

    Those of you who keep on saying “well I have no issues” – OH YES you do.

    Fire up Whatsapp or really any other competing app. Send a message on any of those platforms, and then hit the Home button. Do the same from Hangouts, and hit the Home button again.

    Notice the difference in responsiveness. I’m using an HTC One M7 btw. Hangouts does this weird laggy vertical refresh where no other app does that, and everyone here who’s complained of lag sees it too. Flip on the power-saving mode on your phone, and conduct these same tests. Notice something pretty obvious in responsiveness? Yeah.

  • gommer strike

    What they need is “per contact” customizable SMS tones, not by a “per Hangout” one. “Per Hangout” doesn’t help especially if the person doesn’t even have a google account(or haven’t provided it to you, being a business contact).

  • Vince Lupe

    I hope that it doesn’t include the Facebook-esque chatheads – because, the UI is horrible, crowds the screen – and, if included in Hangouts, it will be hard to distinguish between what is Messenger conversations and Hangouts conversations…

  • Delidumrul Mani

    I hope they develop its functionality, like current hangout is more difficult when sending sms multi then stock Message app.