Google Chat will be available to everyone from next year

Google has confirmed that users of its communications software Hangouts will have to migrate to Google Chat next year. The announcement comes less than a month after the launch of Google Workspace, the company's rebranded collection of collaboration and productivity tools that includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Chat and Meet.

Now it has been announced that Chat will be replacing Hangouts for everyone from next year. Chat will be free to use for consumers and available within Gmail and also as a standalone app. All of the Hangouts features will be preserved, along with some new Chat additions like suggested replies and emoji reactions.

“Starting in the first half of 2021, everyone can begin upgrading from Hangouts to Chat,” explained Matthew Leske, Group Product Manager at Google Chat. “To ensure a smooth transition, we will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history. We'll share more specific guidance on what steps you can take when we begin the transition process.”

A new place to hang out

In the meantime, Google has also announced several changes for particular Hangouts users. Hangouts support will be dropped from Google Fi and Google Voice at some point early next year and the call phones feature will also soon be removed to comply with new regulations introduced in the EU and US.

Google is keen that the migration from Hangouts to Chat goes as smoothly as possible and so will send notifications to admins about any necessary steps that business users will need to take.

Hopefully, the process will be less confusing than Google's overall communications strategy. Alongside Hangouts and Chat, the company also has Duo for video calls and has already put Google Allo out to pasture. Here's hoping that moving everyone to Chat leads to a more straightforward approach.

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