Google is piling on the updates this week and its latest one alters Google+ Hangouts. Today, the company rolled out several improvements for its video chat app, including a new sidebar and notifications.

If you haven’t used Hangouts already, it’s arguably the standout feature of Google+. The tool lets you chat face-to-face with customers, share a screen with team members, or broadcast to hundreds of fans. The most notable update is the new sidebar, which now appears on the left side of the screen next to your Hangout.

“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,” explained Amit Fulay in a Google+ post.

Making Hangouts easier to manage, the sidebar will also house frequently used apps, including any that you might be using in a particular Hangout at the time. However, these can be removed if you find that the sidebar is getting too cluttered or you no longer want to use them.

Google also introduced new notifications, which now sport different colors to help you get a better sense of the message. For example, alerts are now highlighted in red while actions and announcements appear in blue and grey, respectively. Depending on how you work, recognizing colors could help you take action quicker than if you had to read through an entire message.

Although this update is rolling out to members today, it could take a few days before the new features appear in your account.

[Via: Mashable, Image credit: David Burillo]