OK, now that we’re all on the identical web page (proper? everybody?) the primary bit of reports within the weblog put up is that Google Chat will go reside for shopper accounts “beginning within the first half of 2021.” The service began as a business-focused G Suite app (G Suite is now known as “Google Workspace”), so entry to Google Chat initially required you to pay for G Suite. However in 2021, it is going to be free for everybody. Google says it desires a “clean transition” from Google Hangouts to Chat, and it’ll “robotically migrate your Hangouts conversations, together with contacts and saved historical past.”

The sluggish demise of Hangouts

With the rise of Google Chat, Google Hangouts goes to die. Google initially introduced this all the way in which again in 2018, and now we’re getting extra particulars concerning the service’s sluggish shutdown and transition plans for the providers that depend on it. We have already seen Hangouts lose location sharing and SMS help, and within the weblog put up, Google introduced that cellphone calls, Google Fi help, and Google Voice help will quickly be stripped away from the service.

First up is the lack of Google Fi SMS, which begins “within the subsequent few weeks.” Google Fi can use your cellphone SMS app to ship messages, however because it’s an actual mobile phone service, it might additionally get SMS messages by Hangouts. Hangouts has apps for Android, a Chrome extension, and two Internet entry factors—Gmail and hangouts.google.com—so it was a super-easy manner to make use of Google Fi. For Google customers, it was additionally the house of their non-SMS messages, so you bought the whole lot in a single handy app. Whereas Google Chat is taking on for Hangouts, it isn’t selecting up this little bit of performance. If you need Google Fi messages, you may quickly want to make use of Google Messages, the Android SMS app.

Google Messages solely has an Android app and a Internet app. The Messages Internet app at present works by forwarding information out of your cellphone, so your cellphone must be on for it to work, and it’s a must to log in by scanning a QR code out of your cellphone. Google notes that Fi customers will be capable of use Internet Messages “even when their cellphone is off,” so it appears like regular login performance will lastly come to the service.

Google Voice can be dropping Hangouts integration this month. Voice has its personal cellphone apps and a Internet app, and you will quickly want to make use of these.

The demise of cellphone calls in Google Hangouts is seemingly as a result of “new telecommunications rules are being launched within the EU and US starting in 2021.” Google would not clarify what these new rules are, however the timing traces up with an FCC mandate for VoIP providers to incorporate location with 911 calls by January 2021.

Google Chat shouldn’t be horrible

The Google Chat Web app. It's fine.
Enlarge / The Google Chat Internet app. It is positive.

Ron Amadeo

That is all very harking back to the opposite large Google shutdown that is occurring proper now: the transition from Google Play Music to YouTube Music. Whereas YouTube Music is nowhere close to prepared and Google Music customers can count on to lose a great deal of options, Google Chat is definitely fairly good as a Hangouts alternative. For no matter purpose, I have already got entry to it on my shopper Google account, and I have been free to message my current Hangouts contacts. There are no showstopping lacking options, and the UI is trendy and simple. It is not prepared but principally as a result of transition points. I can not take part in group chats, and I can not add new contacts, only a sure variety of my contacts have been flagged as Chat suitable. The core messaging appears to be like nice, although, and if each persons are on Chat, you get nice options like modifying messages. It is in no way a aggressive service in comparison with messaging ecosystems that do not get rebooted each two years, however in the event you simply wish to ship messages and photos backwards and forwards throughout all of your gadgets, it is positive.

As with Google Music, although, Google is transitioning backward once more by shutting down an previous service sooner than it is constructing the brand new one. These transitions would go rather a lot smoother if Google made the brand new app totally useful first after which shut down the previous app later after individuals have moved on. Slowly killing its current apps with out having a viable alternative prepared would not simply really feel dangerous; it opens the door for customers to dump Google providers utterly.

Whereas Hangouts goes to lose extra options as quickly as this month, we nonetheless haven’t got a last shutdown date for the service.

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