Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hangouts in Android shows contact's number instead of name


Before you read this article, make sure you have not saved the same number under two contacts. In this case, Google hangouts will not show the name for the number.

I have a friend in USA whose number is +1-***-***-****. Cannot remember when it started, Google hangouts (SMS function) did not show this friend's name anymore. Instead, it showed the number, without the +1 prefix. This friend and the number were in my contact list; all other messages from other contacts were not affected. If I used other SMS apps from Google play store, this issue did not exist. It looked like a bug of Google hangouts.

 I followed the solution described at https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/hangouts/h55Ur77xwxc/m0xAWw5BuJkJ, but no luck. After a few tests, I decided to give up on hangouts. Google may have good ideas, but their software is not well made.

However, I would like to dig further. I used SMS backup & restore app to backup all my messages. Then downloaded them to my computer and checked the messages from the friend. At that time, I thought I might be able to solve the problem.

Because of unknown reasons, two of the messages between my friend and me used the number ***-***-**** instead of +1-***-***-**** . Since I was in Australia, how it could happen still puzzled me.  Furthermore, hangouts thought ***-***-**** and +1-***-***-**** were not equal, but still grouped the messages together.

I changed the number to the +1 format, uploaded the file back to my phone, erased all SMS on the phone, and then restored the messages using the SMS Backup & Restore app. Finally buggy hangouts showed my friend's name, not the number.


  1. Great help!

  2. Thank you ... I have been searching all afternoon trying to figure this out and you had the answer. After contacts were merged it couldn't identify names because the numbers were duplicated. Thanks for the help!

  3. I have this problem. Tried this fix but unfortunately it didn't work. It's only one number in Hangouts - but it's the one I use most, so I would like it to show the name like it does with everyone else.

  4. This is very recent behavior for Hangouts. It started with an update received in the states (at least in my case) at the beginning of May.

    I found your page after finally figuring it out for myself-for some reason, in this recent update, Hangouts lost the ability to tie-break in the presence of more than one contact with the same information. It's confusing to me, since it worked just fine before the update that caused the behavior.

    I found 3 contacts (all from various merges to new cellphones over the course of the last decade), deleted all but the most complete one, and within 5 minutes, the log had sorted itself.

    As far as Hangouts quality goes, I find the Hangouts app to be of better quality than the stock Samsung app, and the features like unified messaging is great.

  5. My god... First page that has actually been useful... Didn't even need the rest of the article, you solved my problem with your Updated opening sentance!!

    I generally don't merge too many contacts, however I do have some saved via USIM, others via gmail or stored on the phone.
    The problem was exactly as you described, I had the same phone number for 2 separate contacts, one stored on SIM, the other was a gmail contact. I had tried everything to get it to Merge, or to show the name...
    Finally after deleting the SIM contact, it immediately displayed the Gmail display name for that person's SMS thread.


    1. I had a similar issue making calls through Android Hangouts. Probably would be the same for SMS, but I use a different app for that.

      Through sheer dumb luck and being OC about this issue, I stumbled onto what the problem was for 2 of my frequent contacts that wouldn't show up in the Hangouts dialer.

      They had somehow been added to my Google+ "Friends" circle. However, they apparently are not members of Google+.

      It appears that in https://contacts.google.com/preview/all the default image for Google+ contacts is blue, while it appears the default image for non-Google+ contacts is white.

      I edited these two contacts in Chrome on my PC and removed them from my Google+ "Friends" circle.

      Now they show up fine when I type their names into the search box on the Hangouts dialer.

  6. This worked for me. After reading this post I realized the problem apparently started after I was in the UK with a UK SIM card. On my PC I simply edited the backed up SMS file and changed all phone numbers to the consistent format "+1aaaxxxyyyy", which seems to be preferred by either Hangouts or my cell carrier, and after deleting all SMS messages and restoring them, Hangouts once again displayed names, not phone numbers. If the problem pops up again, I'll check to see if I got the format of the phone number correct.

    Seems silly that Hangouts knows to group messages, even though the phone number formats are different, but doesn't know to group them under the same name. Stranger yet that a message I received today for a new phone number I just entered today, displayed as a phone number and not the contact name. As far as I'm concerned this is a program bug in Hangouts.