Google will officially retire Google Hangouts in the first half of 2021 and migrate users to Google Chat that is currently available to Google Workspace (erstwhile G Suite) customers but soon will rollout to regular users. During the transition from Hangouts to Chat, users’ conversations along with contacts and saved history will be moved automatically to other services, the company announced on Thursday. It means that all the platforms by Google that currently has integrated Hangouts service will either be removed or replaced with Google Chat or Meet.
The exact timeline for this transition is currently unclear. The move isn’t entirely unexpected as Google had previously suggested its plan to migrate Hangouts users to Chat and Meet at some point. In the official statement, the company said that Google Chat would have its own standalone app as well as a dedicated section within the Gmail app and Gmail Web client. At the moment, Chat is available only on the Gmail app for Google Workspace customers. Google says with the Chat app, Hangout users will get additional features like sending to inbox, faster search, emoji reactions and suggested replies - all with an improved security.
Google Fi that is integrated within Hangouts, will be available to use on Messages by Google. Fi users will be able to make voice calls and check voicemail from Messages for web and manage conversations from Messages across devices (even when their phone is off). This transition will begin this month, the company announced. Similarly, Google Voice users will now need to use the standalone Voice app to enjoy free calling service.
Google has said ahead of Google Hangout’s exit, services that are currently available within the platform will also shut this year. For instance, the ‘call phones’ feature in Hangouts will be removed for users in the EU and U.S this month due to new telecommunications regulation.