Google Chat will become available as a free service next year

Joanna Estrada
October 16, 2020

Google on Thursday provided an update for users who still rely on Hangouts to chat with friends and family.

Google has also assured that users' Hangouts data, including conversation history and contacts, will automatically migrate to the new Google Chat once it goes live sometime in the first half of 2021. In the next few weeks, Messages by Google will provide a similar experience. Existing conversations, contacts, and saved history will theoretically be migrated over into the standalone Chat app, but users will be able to access Chat from Gmail, too. Meanwhile, Google said in order to comply with new regulations being introduced in the European Union and 2021, it's removing the call phones features in Hangouts. That's a pretty broad time frame, but we are talking about messaging and an app (Hangouts) that has been in use for over 7 years. Google Chat, as of now, is exclusive to Google Workspace (G Suite) subscribers, but will in the future become open to everyone. We'll share more specific guidance on what steps you can take when we begin the transition process.

More importantly, the second bullet says that Hangouts for Workspace customers is actually, fully dying in "late 2021". In other words, every single Google Workspace customer will have to be on Google Chat, as Google will fully replace Hangouts with it. Customers who only have enabled Chat, with classic Hangouts completely disabled, will not be impacted. There will be no option to opt out at this stage. In fact, Google plans to allow Fi users to "make voice calls and check voicemail from Messages for web", plus they'll migrate Hangouts conversations over to Messages.

And for all users in the US and Europe, the ability to call phones from Hangouts will disappear at the beginning of next year - and group video calls in Hangouts will transition to Meet in November. That includes removing Fi support in Hangouts early next year.

Google is also changing some things related to telecommunications and Hangouts with Google Voice.

Beginning this month, Google will direct Hangouts Voice users to the Voice app for text messaging and calling going forward, and early next year, Google will remove Voice support in Hangouts.

Google Chat is targeted at businesses and workplaces right now, but that's changing next year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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