Google first revealed its plan to split Hangouts into Meet and Chat apps in 2017. The announcement was the first sign towards the death of Hangouts app and almost two years later, Google has announced the final timeline for the messaging service. The search giant says the company will begin winding down the service by transitioning G Suite users from Hangouts to Chat and Meet this year. The consumer transition for these apps is expected to begin late in 2020. This planned transition for G Suite users begins on April 16, the company announced in a G Suite Updates blog post.
Starting April 16, Google will start pushing its G Suite administrators and users towards Meet and Chat platforms and the emphasis is expected to be on Chat, which is similar to Slack and designed for messaging. This is the last ditch effort from Google to take on Slack, which owns the enterprise communication and Microsoft Teams, which is making strides in driving Office 365 customers to adopt its messaging service. The changes announced in the G Suite blog post are aimed at administrators and won’t have any direct implications of those using these platforms.
For administrators, the change means that they can disable the classic version of Hangouts in their enterprise communication. They will also be able to control both classic Hangouts and Chat/Meet in their respective settings. Those who use Google Vault will have to decide about Mail retention rules between March 16 and April 16. Google says it will transition features from classic Hangouts to Chat between April and September 2019. The messaging service is expected to get new features like integration with Gmail, chatting with external users, improved video calling and the ability to make calls with Google Voice over the summer.
In October 2019, Google will officially start retiring the classic Hangouts for all G Suite customers. All the remaining users will be automatically transitioned to Chat. The classic Hangouts and Chat are basically interoperable and will remain so until October 2019 but changes are in the offing. 9to5Google first reported Google’s plan to shut down classic Hangouts last month. A look at the important timeline:
April 16, 2019: Google G Suite administrators can begin transition from classic Hangouts
April to September 2019: G Suite Chat will get features from classic Hangouts
October 2019: Google will start winding down classic Hangouts for G Suite customers
October 2019 and onward: Google says the transition for consumers will begin but there is no word on specific time frame just yet
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Google is likely to carry along your past messages history from classic Hangouts into Chat as part of this transition but there is no confirmation. This is another sign of Google’s failure to own the messaging space despite being the leader in email and search. Slack has taken over big time in the enterprise communication and with this transition, Google says it will be better able to offer new features.