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The latest on Google Hangouts and the upgrade to Google Chat

Over the past few years, we’ve invested in building helpful and secure products you can use to communicate and stay connected with the people in your life. This month, we unveiled Google Workspace, which includes everything you need—Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Chat, Meet and more—to get anything done, now in one place. Google Workspace is generally available to all our business customers and next year we’ll bring it to everyone else, too. 

Today we’re sharing an update on what this change means for Hangouts users, including those who use Hangouts with Google Fi and Google Voice. And we’re providing details about the future upgrade from Hangouts to Chat.

Google Chat for everyone coming next year

Next year, Chat will become available as a free service—both in the integrated experience in Gmail and the Chat standalone app. Chat includes familiar Hangouts features like direct and group messaging, with helpful additions like send to inbox, faster search, emoji reactions and suggested replies. With Chat, you can more easily plan with others on goals and similar interests, share and collaborate on files, and assign tasks to help keep everyone on the same page. In addition, Chat features the same strong phishing protections we built in Gmail, so if a link is sent to you via Chat, it will be checked against real-time data from Safe Browsing and flagged if it’s found to be malicious.

Starting in the first half of 2021, everyone can begin upgrading from Hangouts to Chat. To ensure a smooth transition, we will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history. We'll share more specific guidance on what steps you can take when we begin the transition process.

We will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history.

We will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history.

Changes to Hangouts with Google Fi

As we’ve improved the texting and calling experiences available to Fi users over the years, we’ve seen more users shift away from using Hangouts to manage their texting and calling needs. Early next year, we’ll remove Fi support in Hangouts.

Fi users have historically been able to manage SMS and phone calls from Hangouts. In the next few weeks, Messages by Google will provide a similar experience. Fi users will be able to make voice calls and check voicemail from Messages for web, manage conversations from Messages across devices (even when their phone is off) and migrate their existing Hangouts conversations. Beginning this month, we’ll provide guidance about these changes and direct Hangouts Fi users to Messages or the default SMS app on their phone.

Changes to Hangouts with Google Voice 

Similarly, Voice users have historically been able to get calls to their Google Voice number using Hangouts. Over the years, we’ve improved the native Voice experience to offer easy switching between internet and carrier calls, enhanced internet calling reliability, and updated experiences on web and mobile platforms to help users manage everything from one place. Beginning this month, we’ll direct Hangouts Voice users to the Voice app for text messaging and calling going forward, and early next year, we’ll remove Voice support in Hangouts.

Upcoming feature changes in Hangouts

New telecommunications regulations are being introduced in the EU and U.S. beginning in 2021. To comply with these new regulations, we need to remove the call phones feature in Hangouts. In October, we’ll start showing affected users an in-product notification with guidance on how to receive refunds on their remaining calling credits, and early next year, we’ll remove the feature entirely. Separately, in November, we’ll update the group video calling experience in Hangouts with Meet to provide better quality meetings.

Changes to Hangouts for business users

Last June, we introduced the Chat preferred setting in the Admin console to allow any admin to opt-in to migrate all end users to Chat in Google Workspace. We also made Chat preferred configurable at the organizational unit level. In the coming months, we’ll send notifications to Google Workspace admins to detail the final migration stages. Learn more in our Google Workspace Updates blog post.

Empowering our users going forward

As with any engineering project, it’s important to note that timing may shift. Yet we want to give you as much specific information as we can so you know what to expect. We’d like to thank all our users for staying on this journey with us, and we remain committed to delivering a more helpful communications experience for all.

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