Google Chat will completely replace classic Hangouts from March 22: what it means for users

Google has announced that the company is ready to move into the final phase of migrating from Classic Hangouts to Google Chat for Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) customers. Starting March 22, 2022, Google Chat will become the default chat platform for customers still using the Hangouts app for iPhones and Android smartphones. The Google Chat app is now available in two ways: it’s directly integrated into Gmail and needs to be activated manually, and there’s a standalone app on Google Play and App Store. The transition from Hangouts to Chat has been underway for some time, and users can already see changes. Notably, users may also see a prompt that notifies them of upcoming changes.

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What happens to Google Hangouts after March 22, 2022?

In a blog post, Google explains that Hangouts.google.com will continue to work. It is not possible to opt out of this change. However, when users visit classic Hangouts in Gmail on the web or classic Hangouts mobile apps, they will be directed to Chat. The final transition will take about three weeks from March 22, the company adds.

Google points out that “after upgrading the domains to ‘Chat Preferred’, all classic Hangouts apps except hangouts.google.com will be disabled. Additionally, the ‘Classic Chat and Hangouts’ and ‘Classic Hangouts only’ settings will be removed from the Admin console.

Users should note that the transition does not mean that they will lose old Hangouts chats. Except for “a few special cases”, all Hangouts chat history will be available in Google Chat. However, to encourage users to use Google Chat, the new changes to the platform will not carry over to classic Hangouts.

Why is Google making these changes?

The answer to this question is simple, but the process is a bit convoluted. Google has greatly improved its Workspace station which includes Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Meet, Chat, and more. At the hub, Gmails aims to be the primary hub offering integrated services like Chats and Meet, meaning users don’t need to download a standalone app. However, the standalone app will allow access to more settings and features.

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As to why the process is convoluted, Google originally offered a separate chat platform, dubbed GChat, which it killed in 2017. It was replaced by Hangouts which is now replaced by Google Chats.

To enable chats on the Gmail website, go to Settings > Chat & Dating > select Google Chat.

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