Hangouts, Google's communication app that combines instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features, has received a major upgrade on Android. Version 4.0, which was released over a month ago on iOS, brings a design change, performance improvements and less battery drain to the app.

The upgrade gives Hangouts' user interface an overhaul to bring it in line with Google's Material Design visual guidelines. Version 4.0 keeps the app's distinctive green and white color palette but adds a floating Compose button which Google claims makes it easier to start a new group or conversation. The company goes on to say that items now respond to your touch "in more intuitive ways" and transitions between tasks "are more fluid."

In addition to the visual changes, Google says that the update will give Hangouts an overall performance boost, allowing the app to send messages faster and increase its reliability. Attachments have been revamped and simplified, making it easy to share emojis, GIFs, your location, even multiple photos at once, and it's claimed the upgrade will give a noticeable improvement to battery consumption.

Elsewhere, the Hangouts Dialer now comes with an Outbound Caller ID feature, meaning users won't be shown as 'unknown' when they call someone via the app. The ability to receive and reply to group MMS messages in Hangouts using Google Voice has also been added, as has support for Android Wear, so you can now switch accounts, read your conversation history, and reply to messages from an Android Watch.

Hangouts 4.0 arrived on the Play Store yesterday. Google is rolling out the upgrade in stages, so some Android users may not receive an automatic update straight away.

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