Google Chat is rolling out support for classic Hangouts users
Google Chat appears to be rolling out a preview of support for Hangouts to some lucky users. Google previously announced that Hangouts users would be migrated to a free version of Google Chat, which is essentially a competitor to Slack, in the first half of 2021.
Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo was among the first to spot a Hangouts “Preview” message when opening Google Chat. We received the same prompt in the Chat app. Google said it will automatically migrate Hangouts conversations during the transition, along with contacts and saved history.
My Google Chat is now showing this Hangouts "Preview" message.
It looks like all my individual contacts work and are accessible via the search bar.
The only missing feature now is group chat. pic.twitter.com/Vf8mLahrbE
— Ron Amadeo (@RonAmadeo) February 24, 2021
There is one big issue with this “Preview,” and it’s that group chats from Hangouts still haven’t been migrated. You can, however, create a “Room” in Chat and invite everyone over. Even better, the Room you create also shows up as a group chat in Hangouts.
Amadeo notes that there also doesn’t seem to be a way to do a 1-on-1 video call. “Google Chat always wants to paste a URL for a corporate ‘video meeting’ into the chat,” Amadeo said. In Hangouts, starting a video call with someone made the recipient’s phone ring.
The Google Chat preview for Hangouts doesn’t appear to be available for all free users just yet, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see the prompt. Remember, Google previously said the transition would officially happen in the first half of 2021, so there’s still time for a wider rollout to occur.
Once Hangouts users are migrated over to Chat, they’ll be able to access faster search, use emoji reactions, and also share and collaborate on files. The free version of Google Chat will still include extra phishing protections as part of Google’s Safe Browsing initiative.
Speaking of Hangouts, Google recently said that starting March of 2021, Fi users won’t be able to use the service anymore to send or receive text messages or make and receive voice calls and voicemail.
Update 1: Hangouts Group Chats Migrated
One of the missing pieces of the puzzle for the long-awaited Hangouts –> Chat migration is what’ll happen to group chats, but we can confirm that Google is in the process of migrating all group chats over. ArsTechnica‘s Ron Amadeo says his Chat experience is now “fully operational” after about 70 group chats moved over from Hangouts. All group chats with custom names were migrated over to the “Rooms” tab in Chat, while the ones without names show up in the regular “Chat” tab.
My Google Chat is now FULLY OPERATIONAL. About 70 Hangouts group chats have moved over.
It looks like the ones with custom names went to the “Rooms” tabs while the ones without names are in “Chat.”
This is going to be a lot of cleanup. pic.twitter.com/2VRmPlP38G
— Ron Amadeo (@RonAmadeo) March 6, 2021
For most regular users, this means that Chat can fully replace Hangouts. However, as Amadeo points out, there are still a few holdups. For one, SMS sent to Google Voice numbers still appear in Hangouts for him, so some Voice subscribers will need to hang onto the app for the time being. Second, there doesn’t seem to be a way to start a video call from the web app for Chat. Those are both minor issues that won’t affect many users, though, and it’s only a matter of time before all unique functionality of Hangouts gets ported over to another service.