From the first half of 2021, Google will begin to migrate all Hangouts users to the new Google Chat. The transition comes with several changes in both Hangouts and Chat, and users can expect new features and tools for messaging and call purposes. Although Chat had been around and only accessible to G-Suite (now Google Workspace) paying customers, it will become a free service to all Gmail users and also come as a standalone app for free download.
Meanwhile, some features of Hangouts will phase away before Hangouts finally disappears forever – in 2021. For starters, many of Hangouts features such as conversations, contacts, and chat history can be automatically transited to the new Chat, but how that will be done will be disclosed by Google before the final rollout next year.
In fact, back in 2018, Google predicted that Hangouts users would be transitioned to Chat and Meet at a soon future time. Changing Hangouts to Chat will be slow and gradual, and that both services will briefly be available side by side before Hangouts ultimately leaves the scene. Group and direct conversations that existed in Hangouts will be migrated and available in Chat, and collaborating with business partners will be a breeze.
For Google Fi users, carrying out phone calls or texts from Hangouts will be phased out in 2021, and existing Hangouts chats can be moved to Google’s Messages app. Fi texts and calls can also be managed in the web version of the Messages app. For users that desire to use customized Message features for Google Fi purposes, they will only be able to do this by disabling the RCS, Google explained.
Furthermore, support for Google Voice will be removed from Hangouts by early 2021, making it impossible to make or take voice calls from inside Hangouts. Instead, the standalone Voice app will be used for Google Voice texts and calls. Users will not be able to use Hangouts to call phone numbers as from next year, and group video calls in Hangouts will be migrated to Google Meet in November.