Neither simple nor clear, Google’s messaging offer should gradually refocus on Google Chat next year with the gradual abandonment of Hangouts. Users shouldn’t lose too much in the exchange.
Google’s messaging offer is currently a rather unreadable tangle of services, but the thing could gradually gain in readability, especially with the gradual abandonment of Hangouts. We thus add this week that users of the Google platform will be forced to switch to Google Chat for free from the first half of 2021. This transition, which Google wants users to be as painless as possible, should be made in favor automatic transfer of conversations, contacts and exchange histories from Hangouts to Chat. Google must nevertheless always provide a precise schedule for this migration, precise TechCrunch.
Google Chat available for free from next year
As a reminder, Google Chat was initially launched by Google to compete with Slack for businesses. The service therefore includes additional features compared to Hangouts, especially for group chats. It also integrates features dedicated to collaboration on documents or tasks, and takes advantage of more advanced security tools.
It is in this context that Google Chat has so far been offered only to paying G Suite subscribers, but that will change. To better recover Hangouts users, Google Chat will indeed switch to a free formula for the general public.
Hangouts disarmed and soon sent to dry dock
Subsequently, Google will also have to organize the defectors of features between its various applications … and the thing could be complex because of the many interconnections with Hangouts, especially in the United States. For example, Google Fi users (a virtual mobile operator offered by Google and notably allowing the purchase of prepaid packages across the Atlantic) will no longer be able to use Hangouts to access their SMS. They will be automatically redirected to Google Messages, starting on “beginning of next year“. Same pattern for Google Voice users who will no longer be able to make or receive calls from Hangouts, they will have to go directly through the Voice application.
More generally, in Europe as in the United States, Hangouts will no longer handle calls from the beginning of next year. Group video calls will be taken over by Google Meet from next November.