It has been happening for a while now, and it really didn’t take long for the chasms to be pointed out. It’s been a month since Google actively pushed Hangouts users towards Chat, the new text messaging app. The warning signs were excitable. “It’s time to switch to Chat”, “Hangouts is going away soon, so switch to Google Chat now” said the prominent banner within the Hangouts app. Users who switched to Google Chat have since come back with feedback that pretty much defines the differences between a the really old Hangouts app and the new and expected to be cutting edge Google Chat app. Old vehicle, one user calls it. Worse than Hangouts, says another. No one seems impressed with the cajoling to switch to a new app that isn’t including all the functionality of the old one.
The Google Chat app rating on the Google Play Store for Android phones now stands at 2.7, at the time of writing this. This has been dragged down after a slew of recent reviews gave it one or two stars. The complaints from users who have migrated from Hangouts to Google Chat include the fact that Chat does not have the functionality to make audio or video calls, a convenience Hangouts offered. “I can’t attach multiple images at once, and the browser for adding images is clunky,” says another user, Mark Sheridan. “Right now Google Chat is worse than Hangouts in most ways. Not only that, it is worse than most of its non-Google competitors in messaging. If forced to use this before it is AT LEAST as functional as Hangouts currently is,” writes user Nathan, who gave this a one star.
The transition for Google Hangouts users has been happening for weeks now, in phases, alongside the Google Workspace branding that is rolling out for Gmail and other Google apps, as part of the larger Workspace rollout for all users. Google had, earlier this summer, rolled out the Gmail app update which integrated Chat, Meet and Rooms within the Gmail app for Android phones, Apple iPhone, Apple iPad as well as Gmail for the web. The Google Chat messaging, which was limited to paid Workspace users till earlier this summer, will now be available for all users. This is to enable Google to proceed with the expected shutdown of Hangouts app. We had pointed this out earlier as well that all the voice and video call functionality is now being limited to Google Duo, something that users already used to Hangouts, may not appreciate.
Hangouts is displaying certain messages in the app to inform users who continue to use it. “It’s time to switch to Chat”, “Hangouts is going away soon, so switch to Google Chat now. Your recent Hangouts conversations are ready for you in Chat” and “Hangouts is going away soon, so switch to Chat in Gmail now. Your recent Hangouts conversations are ready for you in Gmail” are some of the messages that are pointing Hangouts users towards the Google Chat app. That being said, there are no confirmed timelines for when Google intends to finally flip the switch and turn off the Hangouts app once and for all. There might still be some time before that happens, because the latest chapter certainly isn’t good news for Google, who’d hope to be competing with the Facebook owned WhatsApp as well as the likes of Signal and Telegram in the instant messaging space.