Google Hangouts kills Group Video calling – pushes users to Google Meet
Google has started the company’s traditional ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for outgoing products with the removal of group video calling from Hangouts. The messenger app, once known as Google Talk and soon to be replaced by Google Chat and Google Meet, has been updated to version 36.0.340725045, bringing in the first loss of functionality ahead of its planned switch-off in 2021.
Hangouts users are now greeted by a message at the top of the contact list stating “Video calls in Hangouts now use Google Meet. this gives you live captions, screen sharing and more.” followed by a link to a Google support page. If you try and start a video call in one of your groups, you’ll instead have a Google Meet URL pasted into the chat for everyone to join in the browser. Not the most elegant solution, perhaps, but the game here is to try and nudge our behaviours away from using Hangouts, at least for the happy few that still do. Bizarrely, you can still make one-to-one video calls through Google Hangouts, just as before, and audio calls appear completely unaffected thus far.
According to Android Police, you can still rollback to an earlier version of Hangouts and use group video calling, but we’re not entirely sure why you’d want to unless you’re speaking to a lot of people at once. The free tier of Google Chat is limited to 10 participants, whereas in Google Hangouts, it’s 25. Whatever the case, it’s probably just easier to switch to something else, as the Google MO suggests we’ll see more features being deprecated in the coming months.
Ultimately, it seems that Google is committed to bringing down its gaggle of communication apps down to just Chat, Meet, and Messages, which is frankly a relief, given that in the past few years we’ve had Chat, Meet, Messages, Hangouts, Allo, Duo, G+, Currents, and probably a few more we’ve managed to block out.