Google Chat is set to become a free service within Gmail and as a standalone app
Video calls on Hangouts will also start using Meet from November
Users won’t be able to call phone numbers from Hangouts next year
Google says both Hangouts and Google Chat will be active for a while
Google has announced that it will transition its users from Google Hangouts to Google Chat under the re-branded Google Workspace (previously G Suite) in the first half of next year. Google Workspace brings Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and now Chat, within an integrated, unified space. Up until now, Google Chat was only available for premium G Suite customers. But it is set to become a free service within Gmail and as a standalone app (much like Google Hangouts).
The new Google Workspace, too, is only available for business customers right now. The company in a blog post has said that it will bring it to the rest of the people next year. Google Chat will retain some Hangout features, such as direct and group messaging, and discard some others. Google says the new messaging application will also have the same phishing mechanism as Gmail. It means links and attachments sent via Google Chat will automatically run through real-time data from Google Safe Browsing and flagged if malicious.
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. The company has not given an exact date of the transition, nor has it specified things users will have to do to make the jump.
Video calls on Hangouts will also start using Meet from November. And users won't be able to call phone numbers from Hangouts starting early next year. Some other details are particular to Google Fi and Google Voice users. For Voice users, the company has said that it will start directing text messages and calls from Hangouts to the Voice app this month, and remove Voice support from Hangouts entirely next year. Google Fi users won't be able to manage text messages and calls from Hangouts from sometime early next year.
The transition, however, will be gradual and both Hangouts and Chat will be available for a while, reports The Verge, citing additional details that Google has shared with the publication.
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Veer Arjun Singh is Deputy Editor, News at Gadgets 360. He has written many in-depth features on technology, healthcare, hospitality, and education in the last seven years, besides reviewing latest gadgets across categories. He has also profiled CXOs, entrepreneurs, social workers, lawyers, chefs, and musicians. You can find him as @arjunwadia on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with tips, suggestions, and general observations.