Google has been talking about shutting down Hangouts for a long time now, but now it looks like the company may finally be ready to do it.
Google today gave an update on Chat and Hangouts. Chat is currently a messaging service for Google Workspace enterprise users, but next year it will become free to everyone both as a standalone app and integrated into the Gmail app. In the first half of 2021, everyone can upgrade from Hangouts to Chat and automatically migrate their Hangouts conversations, contacts, and saved history.
Chat includes Hangouts features like direct and group messaging as well as send to inbox, faster search, emoji reactions, and suggested replies. Google says that in Chat it's easier to plan goals, share and collaborate on files, and assign tasks.
We also got an update on the Hangouts and Chat migration specifically for enterprise users. Starting in Q2 2021, all Google Workspace enterprise customers will be moved to Chat unless their admins explicitly opt out. In late 2021, though, all remaining Hangouts users will be moved to Chat.
Finally, Google announced some changes to Hangouts. Google will be removing Google Fi support from Hangouts early next year, meaning Fi users will no longer manage their SMS and phone calls in that app. Google's Messages app will offer a similar experience in the coming weeks, allowing Fi users to make calls and check voicemail from Messages for web, manage conversations across devices, and migrate their Hangouts conversations.
Google is also planning to remove Google Voice support from Hangouts starting early next year.