Google cleans up its communication tools and adds new capabilities to its Android app.
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Google announced five new updates rolling out to the Google+ Android app and shuttered its Messenger group chatting service for both Android and iOS users. Messenger allowed the app's users to share photos, video-chat and text with friends. Moving forward, Google+ users will be encouraged to move their communications and sharing to Hangouts, the company said.
Killing its Messenger app represents yet another attempt on Google's part to unify its many communications features. At this year's Google I/O developer conference, the company announced a retooled version of Hangouts that included chat capabilities previously offered through Google Talk and Google+ Messenger, among other features. Now, Hangouts will provide all messaging and video calls.
Other updates coming to the Android app include full support for Google Apps for Business; easier switching between Google+ accounts; accessibility to Google Drive photos and videos; and more controls for location sharing. Here are some details:
Quickly switch between accounts.
Users no longer need to sign in and out to access multiple Google+ accounts. Instead, you can switch from one account to another by navigating to the app menu, which is where your multiple Google+ accounts are listed, and simply tapping to switch views. This new feature is similar to the Gmail for Android capability, which also lets you access multiple accounts.
Full Android support for Google Apps for Business.
Virgil Dobjanschi, a software engineer at Google, said that as long as your Apps manager has enabled Google+, you can share content publicly, with your circles, or with only the people in your organization. You will also be able to more easily discern whether someone's profile is part of your Apps domain.
Access Google Drive photos and videos.
If you store photos or videos in Google Drive, Google's cloud storage solution, you can now view and share them from Google+ both on Android and on the Web.
More location-sharing controls.
As soon as you update your Android app you can share your pinpoint or city-level location with others -- if you choose. Location-sharing is circle-based, so you can choose to share city-level information with your coworkers, for example, while your family circle can see your pinpointed location. This update also gives you the option to use your circles to filter who appears on your Locations map.
Download your Messenger information.
Since Google has discontinued its Messenger feature, users have the option to download all conversations, including text and photos, through Google Takeout. To do this, sign in to Takeout and click the "Choose services" option at the top. Then click the Messenger option and select "Create archive." When the zip file has finished running, click the blue Download button. You may be asked to enter your sign-in credentials to continue.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
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