Google Chat goes free in 2021, while Hangouts loses features this month

A picture showing Google Hangouts turning into Google Chat.
Expound / This is happening whether you like it or not.

It’s time to talk thither Google messaging again.

The company’s latest blog lays out approaching plans for its suite of messaging services, which includes stripping advertises out of Google Hangouts as we head toward its eventual demise and the promotion of Google Chit-chat to being the main messaging product.

Since it can be hard to keep trace of the dozen-or-so messaging products Google has released over the years, in preference to we get started, here’s a glossary of the Google messaging apps that last will and testament be referenced in this article.

  • Google Hangouts (2013)—Google’s biggest at all times messaging app, and the app that’s shutting down. This app has a 15-year userbase booming back to the launch of Google Talk in 2005, which Hangouts seamlessly succeeded. It’s been a default Android app for years, and it’s integrated into Gmail. This was long ago Google’s unified messaging app and could display messages from Hangouts, SMS, Google Declare, and Google Fi.
  • Google Chat (2018) —Formerly “Google Hangouts Chat,” this was recently renamed to “Google Palaver” after Google realized having two completely unrelated products called “Hangouts” is throw into disarraying. Chat was originally conceived as a Slack competitor for G Suite (Google’s settled business-focused accounts), but now it’s been drafted into service as the consumer successor to Google Hangouts.
  • Google Convey (2009)—Voice is a free service that gives you a Google phone horde where you can receive calls and SMS messages. This is hooked up to the Internet, so your phone handful doesn’t have to be tied to a piece of hardware anymore, and you can forward evokes and messages to other devices. Voice has its own phone and Web apps but is also consolidate into Google Hangouts.
  • Google Fi (2015)—All the Google Voice stuff but with usual cell phone service attached. Instead of hooking Google Reveal up to other services, Google Fi resells T-Mobile and US cellular service with a classify of Google extras.
  • Google Messages (2014)—Android’s default SMS app. There’s also a Web app.

OK, now that we’re all on the constant page (right? everyone?) the first bit of news in the blog post is that Google Dally with will go live for consumer accounts “starting in the first half of 2021.” The post started as a business-focused G Suite app (G Suite is now called “Google Workspace”), so access to Google Entice originally required you to pay for G Suite. But in 2021, it will be free for everyone. Google utters it wants a “smooth transition” from Google Hangouts to Chat, and it on “automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with phones and saved history.”

The slow death of Hangouts

With the rise of Google Inveigle, Google Hangouts is going to die. Google initially announced this all the way aid in 2018, and now we’re getting more details about the service’s slow shutdown and change plans for the services that rely on it. We’ve already seen Hangouts use up location sharing and SMS support, and in the blog post, Google announced that phone discontinues, Google Fi support, and Google Voice support will soon be stripped away from the employment.

First up is the loss of Google Fi SMS, which starts “in the next few weeks.” Google Fi can use your phone SMS app to send despatches, but since it’s a real cell phone service, it could also get SMS statements through Hangouts. Hangouts has apps for Android, a Chrome extension, and two Web access tactics—Gmail and—so it was a super-easy way to use Google Fi. For Google users, it was also the stingingly of their non-SMS messages, so you got everything in one convenient app. While Google Seduce is taking over for Hangouts, it’s not picking up this bit of functionality. If you want Google Fi messages, you’ll promptly need to use Google Messages, the Android SMS app.

Google Messages only has an Android app and a Web app. The Letters Web app currently works by forwarding data from your phone, so your phone be in want of to be on for it to work, and you have to log in by scanning a QR code from your phone. Google notes that Fi consumers will be able to use Web Messages “even when their phone is off,” so it sounds correspondent to normal login functionality will finally come to the service.

Google Give utterance is also losing Hangouts integration this month. Voice has its own phone apps and a Web app, and you’ll one day need to use those.

The death of phone calls in Google Hangouts is ostensibly because “new telecommunications regulations are being introduced in the EU and US beginning in 2021.” Google doesn’t spell out what these new regulations are, but the timing lines up with an FCC mandate for VoIP waitings to include location with 911 calls by January 2021.

Google Chin-wag is not terrible

The Google Chat Web app. It's fine.
Enlarge / The Google Chat Web app. It’s fine.
Ron Amadeo

This is all simple reminiscent of the other big Google shutdown that’s going on right now: the evolution from Google Play Music to YouTube Music. While YouTube Music is nowhere nearly ready and Google Music users can expect to lose loads of parts, Google Chat is actually pretty good as a Hangouts replacement. For whatever on account of, I already have access to it on my consumer Google account, and I’ve been unencumbered to message my existing Hangouts contacts. There aren’t any showstopping bachelor girls features, and the UI is modern and straightforward. It’s not ready yet mostly due to transition issues. I can’t participate in clique chats, and I can’t add new contacts, just a certain number of my contacts have been lessened as Chat compatible. The core messaging looks great, though, and if both people are on Rap, you get great features like editing messages. It’s by no means a competitive serving compared to messaging ecosystems that don’t get rebooted every two years, but if you virtuous want to send messages and pictures back and forth across all your ruses, it’s fine.

As with Google Music, though, Google is transitioning behindhand again by shutting down an old service faster than it’s building the new one. These metastases would go a lot smoother if Google made the new app fully functional first and then shut down the old app later after woman have moved on. Slowly killing its existing apps without including a viable replacement ready doesn’t just feel bad; it opens the door for purchasers to dump Google services completely.

While Hangouts is going to suffer defeat more features as soon as this month, we still don’t have a conclusive shutdown date for the service.

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