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Hangouts iOS app update adds handy message reply feature that works on Apple Watch

Google has updated the Hangouts app for iOS with a new reply from notification feature, which includes wider support for the Apple Watch. Version 6.1.0 includes the new feature, plus a selection of bug fixes. The update comes a short while after Vine, another high profile app, received a dedicated Apple Watch app and complication.

The Hangouts update isn’t quite so comprehensive as Vine’s, and doesn’t come with a complication; but anyone who does regularly use Google’s messaging app will appreciate the ability to reply directly from the Watch. It should be noted this is a system wide option that’s not only for the Apple Watch, but works on the iPhone as well.

Hangouts notifications have always appeared on the Apple Watch, but without the ability to reply. This update changes that, but not quite to the same extent as on the phone, where custom typed replies can be entered into the notification box. On the Watch, just above the Dismiss button, is a Reply button. Tap it and a list of pre-determined responses appear.

There’s no obvious way to change the canned replies, so you’ll have to make to with ‘On my way’ and similar phrases. The alternative is to use the dictation tool to speak a reply, use of which depends entirely on where you are and what you’re doing when you get a message. Hangouts operates in a similar way on Android Wear. Messages can be replied to using dictation or a set of stock responses, all from your smartwatch.

The new version of Hangouts is available to download from the iTunes App Store now, and once the update is applied there isn’t a need to do anything else. If for some reason you want to disable the new reply from notification feature, there’s a switch to flick under the settings menu in the app.