Google is just about ready to let Hangouts die its famously long death, and the company is asking users to not look back as they mosey on over to Google Chat. It’s the end of an era, of sorts, namely the wasted time the tech giant spent trying to make an all-in-one dedicated call and messaging app work within its vast suite of native apps.
Messages on the Google Hangouts web app show a message saying “Your organization has upgraded to Chat. Starting November 1, 2022, Hangouts on the web will redirect automatically to Chat on web.” All messages and contacts should be automatically ported over to the new system, according to the company’s post about the changeover.
Still, some messages won’t be ported over, and Google is telling users they need to export those conversations using Google Takeout or else lose all that data in 2023, when the platform will truly be kaput. It’s been a long, rough road to get here. Google has mentioned killing off Hangouts multiple times now.
Still, it’s not like this is a surprise. In 2021, the company opened up its suite of Workspace apps to all users, which included a request that Hangouts users make the switch to Chat. At a certain point, of course, the company had to stop asking its users to switch and instead start mandating the change. Earlier this year, Google started to urge users to migrate over to Chat. Since then, it has been forcibly migrating users over to its other messaging app while declaring that the final date of death would be Nov. 1, 2022.
Chat is supposed to be much more akin to Slack in functionality, though it’s currently lacking many of those hot features that make many of the popular platforms so usable. Sure you can set your status or react with emojis to other people’s posts, but Chat won’t let you search within documents like you can in Slack search.
Google’s other messaging app, Google Messages, is explicitly trying to copy iMessages with features like voice messaging transcriptions—features that are exclusive to Android users. Apparently, the only way to compete with a walled garden is with even more walled gardens.
Hangouts began life as a feature on poor, poor Google+, first codenamed “Babel,” but became a standalone app in 2013, where the company started importing features from its earlier slate of messaging apps like Google Talk and Google+ Messenger. It integrated SMS messaging and Google Voice all in one app.
Despite Hangouts being installed 5 billion times on Play Store, it seems like the company’s messaging strategy was cursed, as in the following years it seemed to reverse its “all-in-one app” idea and ask users to use Messenger for SMS, and later installed the ill-fated Allo and Duo apps on its Pixel smartphones. Guess which app didn’t come preinstalled? If you guessed Hangouts, then you’d be correct.
Worse still, Google has been routinely unable to compete with Apple’s iMessage, meaning that it’s regularly complained to one of its biggest competitors in the app space to make cross-OS functionality easier for messaging. Earlier this year, Google Senior Vice President Hiroshi Lockheimer begged Apple to adopt a Rich Communication Services standard that would hopefully end the dreaded green box from appearing on iMessage users, but so far Apple hasn’t budged even after the Android team put out an online campaign against its rival.