Google Hangouts loyalists, I regret to inform you that the news about your beloved communication tool is not great.
Google announced in a blog post Tuesday that beginning in October it will start phasing out Classic Hangouts for its G Suite users in order to transition them to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Thankfully, the company said that this change will not immediately affect the rest of us, but it did say that a consumer shift over to a free Chat and Meet service is imminent.
We knew this was inevitable. 9to5Google first reported back in November that Hangouts was staring down its eventual demise sometime in 2020. (Scott Johnston, a head of product at Google, later shot down the report, claiming that there hadn’t been any decisions made about when Hangouts would be phased out.) A company spokesperson told Gizmodo at the time that it was “fully committed to supporting classic Hangouts users until everyone is successfully migrated to Chat and Meet.”
Classic Hangouts is the latest in a string of Google messaging services to bite the dust. Google recently gave the axe to Allo, and before that, there was Hangouts predecessor Gchat, as well as Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Google Spaces. Johnston pointed to a thread by Google engineer Justin Uberti back in December that broke down in pretty simple terms how Google envisions its messaging moving forward with Hangouts Chat and Meet, Messages, and Duo:
1/ When talking about Google's messaging strategy, discussions often get confusing because of the difference between what a product is *for* vs. who has *access to* a product. @juberti does a good job simply outlining who our apps are *for* here: https://t.co/e1slm83aKe
— Scott Johnston (@happyinwater) December 8, 2018
Early reports of how Hangouts Chat is going to be received by its Classic-loyal consumer base indicate it may be a bit bumpy. As Ars Technica notes, “Google’s ‘transition plan’ is worrying—Hangouts Chat isn’t even a good Slack clone yet.” But there’s still a good amount of time between now and when the company will be migrating its consumers to the newer product, so there’s still time for the company to iron out the kinks.