Google Hangouts is finally, really going away for everyone in November of 2022, and Google Chat is ready to step in as a full-featured replacement. Once reserved for Google Workspace subscribers, Chat generally offers more capabilities, so it’s a good trade.
Every change involves learning how the new system works, and the fine details can sometimes be frustrating. Getting an early start is the best way to take control of the situation and manage the transition on your own schedule.
Google began phasing out Hangouts for Workspace customers in February 2022 and is now encouraging all Hangouts users to make the switch to Google Chat by November. In most cases, Hangouts’ messages and contacts should appear within Chat automatically, making it easy to continue current conversations and reference past information.
When opening Hangouts in a web browser, a message will appear near the top of the page with a link to open Google Chat and another that provides additional information. A similar transition is being recommended when using the Hangouts Chrome extension, with the Google Chat progressive web app being offered as an alternative to simply loading Chat in a tab. The Hangouts mobile app is also being shut down in November, and a Google Chat app is available for iPhone and Android phones.
Chat offers more features, including easy access to Google Meet — its video conferencing solution — and Google Spaces — an environment that allows Google Drive files and Google Tasks’ lists to be shared among multiple people and integrated with text, photo, and video messaging. In Gmail settings, Chat can be enabled on a sidebar so that it’s accessible without loading a separate webpage.
As far as forced changes go, moving to Chat is really not that bad. One of the few drawbacks is that video call ringing only works in the Gmail mobile app; however, a Google Meet invitation can be sent from Chat to get a similar result.
Google has been notoriously unclear about which messaging app to use for any situation, often launching several competing solutions at once. A single well-considered answer to the common need to communicate with friends, family, and co-workers probably would have been much more popular and perhaps cutting Google Talk, Duo, and Hangouts will help to solve the confusion once and for all.
Google Chat and Meet are the future and integrate more fully with other Google apps and services, so you should start the transition now.