Google just made a big announcement regarding Hangouts. I mean chat, which is in G Suite. I mean, Google Workplace. uh, workroom. What I’m saying is that in the first half of next year Google is starting to migrate all regular Hangouts users to their newly created Google Chat service. In doing so, they make it free for everyone and quit Hangouts once and for all when the transition is complete. To keep things running smoothly, your Hangouts conversations, contacts, and saved history are all automatically moved.
Google Chat is a messaging service built into Gmail that also works on its own. Users can create dedicated “rooms” to participate in thread conversations, collaborate on documents, sheets and slides, assign tasks, and more. It’s basically Google’s answer to Slack and their way of keeping everyone on the same page. It has powerful search capabilities, built-in phishing protection, and the ability to integrate third-party bots to automate tasks. Then why is Google bringing this business-focused tool to the masses? Most regular users don’t need bots, thread conversations add complexity, although interesting and Hangouts work just fine. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” right? Well, Hangouts are pretty broken, even though we’ve all grown to love them, and Chat is trying to clean up the mess.
If you currently use Hangouts to manage your Google Fi text messages, you will no longer be able to access this feature early next year. According to Google, most users have turned away because the Google Messages app looks better and is better integrated with their phones. But there is good news: Fi users can make voice calls, get voicemail and messages from the internet, and manage message conversations across devices even when their phone is turned off. Does anyone feel like we’re staying in circles with these messaging services reincarnations? That feels just like Google Voice again.
With that in mind, Google Voice support in Hangouts will also get the ax early next year. Voice users who manage everything through Hangouts are directed to the Google Voice app almost instantly. In addition, the ability to call phones from Hangouts will also be removed early next year. This month anyone who uses this feature will receive an in-app notification letting them know how to get a refund for unspent call credit.
Lastly, any G Suite or Google Workspace admins who haven’t finished migrating their users from Hangouts to Chat will receive a notification showing them how to complete this transition. Angry! This is a lot of cleaning up, but let’s face it, we all knew this was going to happen at some point. Google is no stranger to building and recycling messaging apps to find competitor “iMessage,” and Hangouts probably wouldn’t get a second expansion anyway. With Google Chat, the company wants to continue investing in its vision of building a helpful and secure communication platform – even if that means breaking the whole dozen eggs in the process. I’m actually very much in favor of Google unifying their messaging efforts while this is the last time they jump on something new because my friends and family will hate me for downloading another app. ->