It’s time for Hangouts to say goodbye.
Google has announced that Hangouts users will now be redirected to migrate to Google Chat. The app will remain usable until November for web users, but everyone who uses the Hangouts app will receive the prompt to make the switch from now on.
To clear up confusion, Hangouts was the primary chat feature used inside Gmail, but it’s not the same as Google Chat or Google Talk.
Google Talk had already been dead for a while before it was officially discontinued last month, and ironically, Talk users were migrated to Hangouts prior to its end.
Now that Hangouts is leaving the scene, Google Chat should be the primary (and hopefully the only) Google app for instant messaging.
If you were a Hangouts user, there’s no need to panic: it seems like all of Hangouts features are kept in the new app, and Google is giving everyone the option to download all their chat history – but even if you take no action, your conversations will be moved automatically to the new app, so nothing will be lost. In fact, in the blog post, they were careful to call this change an “upgrade.”
And there are quite a few upgrades. Among the highlighted features is the ability to edit Google documents without leaving Chat, creating Spaces for specific purposes, and using the app inside the new Gmail layout. The option to use emphasis, tag people, and reply with GIFs was also highlighted, though that’s par for the course in messaging apps at this point.
More information on this migration can be found in their official blog post.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Google Chat – and I wouldn’t blame anyone for not even knowing there was a distinction between all of these similar apps – it’s essentially Google’s version of a Discord / Slack messaging app. You can simply message someone like you always would, but you can also create “Spaces” (which are similar to “channels” or “servers” from Slack and Discord respectively) and add more people to it.
Chat is now the primary way to communicate inside Google Workspace, which is the fancy way of calling Google’s collection of apps (Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Drive, etc.) For the moment, it lacks in features compared to the competition, but perhaps with Google focusing on a single app, they can find ways to push users into trying out Chat.
Though if Google’s track record is anything to go by, I suspect Chat will continue to be exactly what it already is: a feature that exists.
Google has a tendency to unceremoniously abandon apps without giving them a proper end. Last year they announced that Keep, their note-taking app, would no longer be supported, but the app itself would remain accessible on the web.
The same goes for Chrome Apps. Support for Chrome Apps is now over and users will have to reinstall any apps they’ve had using this system – a minor inconvenience given how most apps were already running on the web anyway, but still another example of Google having to walk back a major feature of one of their own products.
And while this sounds bad if you use Google Chrome, rest assured: this has nothing to do with your Chrome browser. It’s just another case of a confusing naming convention. Chrome Apps was the name given to applications used in Chromebooks that run Chrome OS, so this has nothing to do with your browser.
While this will certainly not be the last discontinued Google service, at least Hangouts will soon be “hanging out” with all the other deceased Google services and products at killedbygoogle.com – if it’s any consolation, at least it has a lot of company.
Although, Google still has Meet, Duo, and Voice.
Plenty more messaging apps on the chopping block.