Hangouts end of life

Hangouts end of life DEFAULT

Google will let everyone migrate from Hangouts to Chat for free in

Google&#;s strategy around its messaging apps is nothing if not messy right now (hello Hangouts, Meet, Chat, Duo and Co.), but it looks like things will get a bit easier come next year. We already knew that Hangouts&#; time was coming to an end and as Google announced today, the company will allow all current Hangouts users to migrate to Chat &#; which was originally meant to only be its Slack-like messaging service for business users &#; in the first half of

One interesting wrinkle here: Chat will now also become free to use for consumers. Currently, you have to be a paying G Suite/Workspace user to access the service (though somehow it&#;s enabled on my free personal account).

While Chat isn&#;t an exact 1-to-1 replacement of Hangouts, it actually offers a bunch of additional features for group chats and collaboration around files and tasks, as well as new security tools. Chat, together with Rooms and Meet, will also be integrated deeply into the Gmail app as part of Google&#;s Workspace migration.

Image Credits: Google

Google says it will automatically migrate all Hangouts conversations, contacts and history to Chat, but it&#;s not providing details about this yet. Final timing, Google says, may still shift. It&#;s not clear, though, when Google will force everyone to migrate and shut down the Hangouts servers for good.

There are a few more details here: If you use Hangouts with Google Fi, Hangouts support will go away &#;early next year.&#; Traditionally, Fi users were able to make calls and manage their text messages from Hangouts. That experience will migrate to Google&#;s Messages app.

If you&#;re a Google Voice user, there&#;s a similar transition happening. For voice calls and text messages, Hangouts users will now be directed to the Voice app, and early next year, your Voice support will be removed from Hangouts.

And for all users in the U.S. and Europe, the ability to call phones from Hangouts will disappear at the beginning of next year &#; and group video calls in Hangouts will transition to Meet in November.

Yeah &#; that all sounds complicated, but it&#;s a problem of Google&#;s own making. A few years ago, the idea was to move Hangouts users to its Allo and Duo apps and business users to Chat and Meet (or whatever they were called back then). Allo flopped (and few people use Duo), leaving Google with the unenviable task of keeping the aging Hangouts platform around for the foreseeable future and making the overall transition harder and more complicated, to the point where I&#;m not sure that consumers really understand what&#;s happening.



RIP Google Hangouts, you deserved better

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Google Hangouts was one of Google’s best chat apps. It boasted a bunch of useful and, for its time, innovative features that still exist in other apps today. Here’s a fun fact: when Android Authority was a younger and smaller company, we actually did the bulk of our communications in a Google Hangouts group chat for a period of time. Tens of millions of people used it all around the world and many of us refused to leave until Google forced us away. Despite a small, but very loyal fanbase, Google has shuttled Hangouts across the rainbow bridge.

Here’s everything you need to know about the rise and fall of Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts: A brief history

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Let’s start with a brief history of Google Hangouts. It starts with a solid product launch with plenty of features over the course of a few years. It then degenerates into a random, rambling tale of a company that had no idea what it had or how to use it. Enjoy.

The early years:

Hangouts started life as part of the Google Plus experience. People could chat with each other while using the app, video chat with each other, and the Hangouts-On-Air service let you broadcast your video chats to other people. Back then, the only part of the site that was referred to as Hangouts was the video chat and broadcast service. The messaging part of the service was referred to as Huddles.

The service existed in various forms through and It received a bunch of refinement, including various UI changes and consolidation to make things easier on users. However, it remained tethered to Google Plus as part of the social media experience. It made headlines often for stuff like letting random people talk to astronauts in space. The sensational headlines and smooth functionality felt years ahead of its time. In a sense, it was, and it added to the excitement of the platform.

That all changed in during Google I/O when Hangouts was spun off into its own app. It had chat and video chat capabilities. Hangouts was supposed to have SMS as well, but it came in an update later in It also came with native cross-platform support for both video, voice, and text chat, a rarity at the time. Hangouts-On-Air remained attached to Google Plus.

The golden years:

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The middle years are when Hangouts truly shone. It came into the middle years with a solid voice, text, and video chat service along with SMS and MMS support. It started this era of Hangouts by merging SMS and Hangouts chats together for a cleaner, easier feel. Multiple updates in squashed bugs, slowly added features, revamped the UI, and even added the ability to call physical phone numbers. The desktop version of Hangouts got chat headsa year after Facebook popularized the feature. You get the idea. was a period of massive growth for Hangouts.

In , Google officially retired Google Talk (the company finished this process in ), putting all of its eggs into Hangouts. This also began the experimental phase for Google Hangouts. Google experimented with letting you chat with businesses through Google Search. There was also integration with Google Now (later Google Assistant) introduced in mid Google even let you do presentations in Hangouts. Behind the curtains, the app went from version to , which included a bunch of bug fixes, performance improvements, and UI adjustments. The app even passed one billion downloads during this time. Things seemed to be going quite well and users were, generally, happy.

The troubling years:

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Unfortunately, the end of and the beginning of is when things started to unravel. The end of the year saw whispers of a new, bot-heavy chat service in the mix,while other whispers talked about removing SMS support in favor of Google’s new SMS app(and the first eventual successor to Google Hangouts). The former would one day become Google Allo and the latter was in support of Google’s new SMS app that would eventually become Messages by Google, Google’s RCS, SMS, and MMS app.

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The beginning of saw Google dividing its attention even further with the launch of the fourth and fifth Hangouts successor, Google Meet and Hangouts Chat. It would be the fifth and sixth messaging apps Google launched in four years. Google officially removed SMS supportin May and never looked back. Google did try to tell everyone that Hangouts wasn’t going anywhere (again), but if you read the linked article, what Google actually said was that Hangouts wasn’t going anywhere people actually wanted Hangouts to go.

Read next:How to use Google Meet

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

And now here we are in Google sent out a message to Hangouts users in August that they need to transition to the sixth and final Hangouts successor, Google Chat, which is actually the fourth successor (Hangouts Chat from ) re-branded into yet another product. This is where the story ends for now. We will update the article when the final shutdown occurs.

What Google Hangouts did right

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Google Hangouts did a lot of things right. It launched in an era when messaging apps were just starting to find themselves. On paper, the product did a lot correctly. Let’s go over some of the best parts of Hangouts.
  • Cross-platform support: Hangouts had some of the best cross-platform support of any messaging app. Most messaging apps have caught up, but this was a pretty big deal when Hangouts first launched. It was on Android, iOS, and any desktop or laptop computer with a web browser, regardless of the operating system.
  • Strong integration with Google: You could access Hangouts in Gmail and Google Plus. Being able to message people and have your email on the same webpage made it a great productivity tool. Having it in the same spot as your social media made it an excellent communication tool.
  • Strong features: Google Hangouts could do it all — text chat, SMS, MMS, video chat, and voice calls. You could do all of those things in group chats as well. For its time, this was an incredibly strong set of features that few other messaging platforms could emulate.
  • It kept up with current tech: While Google was actively trying, Hangouts was always among the first to integrate new Android features, like Android Nougat’s Quick Reply feature or messaging with Google Assistant (called Google Now at the time).
  • Everybody had it: Google Hangouts accounts were attached to your Google account. Since almost everybody with an Android device has a Google account, nobody really had to sign up for Hangouts. It made the process much easier because it was already there.

This doesn’t sound like much. However, back in , there were few competitors capable of going toe-to-toe with Google Hangouts in terms of baseline features. In addition to the list above, Hangouts was just really easy to use. Chats were laid out in a neat, orderly way. Most of the menus were easy to understand. The conversation list rarely felt cluttered or unmanageable. It was so easy my mom could use it.

In short, Hangouts did a great job of hitting the comfort zone of millions of people. A lot of folks love Hangouts and can’t quantify it with reasons that made Hangouts unique. By now, almost every messaging app can do what Hangouts did. Hangouts just did it more comfortably than most.

What Google Hangouts did wrong

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Of course, if everything was sunshine and rainbows, this article wouldn’t exist. So here’s how I think Google messed up with Hangouts. You can add your own reasons in the comments if you like.
  • Google gave up after only two years: This is probably the biggest issue. The app launched in and was Google’s flagship chat app. By the end of , Google had started its messaging identity crisis and had three other chat apps (Messages, Allo, and Duo). That number doesn’t include the retired Google Talk. Hangouts received updates for a while afterward, but it was never the center of attention after
  • Competitors caught up: The charm of Hangouts was its strong set of base features. Well, unfortunately for Google, the concept of a group video chat isn’t unique, so eventually the big dogs caught up to Hangouts. Hangouts didn’t do much to push the envelope forward after that, allowing competitors to overtake Hangouts with features like true end-to-end encryption, self-destructing messages, and others.
  • Google’s identity crisis confused everybody: By the time Hangouts retired, Google had released six other messaging apps, and that doesn’t include platform-specific ones like YouTube Messenger, Google Maps Messages, or integrated chats in Google Photos, Google Docs, etc. It’s honestly difficult to keep track of. There was only a small amount of time where Hangouts had the spotlight. It otherwise competed for attention with something else Google was doing.
  • Google didn’t market to consumers: Hangouts was never the thing to use in the mainstream. Google could’ve made it more consumer-friendly with stickers, themes, filters, and other fun little extras. As far as I’m aware, it only had a dark theme and a light theme to go along with its classic green layout. The company never marketed the app to a wide audience. The company just shoved the app on Android phones by default and rarely said a word about it again.
  • Other miscellaneous criticisms: Hangouts wasn’t above reproach. It faced plenty of criticism for nagging bugs that wouldn’t go away, a lack of proper encryption, and some even criticized it for abandoning XMPP, preventing it from being used on multi-chat apps like Pidgin. Its integration with Google Plus forced people to use real names for a while, limiting privacy. These minor issues plagued Hangouts throughout its lifetime.

Humans practice hagiography fairly consistently. We tend to want to remember the good times and dismiss the bad ones. A lot of people feel the same way about Hangouts. It was the best chat service Google ever made. However, I can distinctly remember whole days where I searched for a Hangouts alternative because the bugs were that frustrating. It wasn’t always smooth sailing with Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts: The legacy

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Google Hangouts isn’t with us anymore as a physical product. A lot of its features are still with us in other products. Hangouts pushed the boundaries in an era where boundaries needed to be pushed. The impact of Google Hangouts wasn’t too huge. There are, after all, a lot of messaging services that left a mark on the messaging ecosystem. Discord, for instance, revived the dead chat room scene. Signal Private Messenger and Telegram’s rivalry helped raise awareness for the benefits of encryption.

Hangouts, by contrast, affected the industry in a different way. When it launched, it launched with text, voice, and video chat. It also featured group versions of all of those chats and excellent cross-platform support. It was a rare feature set when the app launched back in Since then, most services have improved and adapted. Facebook Messenger added individual and group video chatting in WhatsApp followed along in Speaking of WhatsApp, the company added a website version in Viber added video calls in , while Telegram added the feature in , and Discord followed suit in

Also read:The best alternatives to FaceTime on Android

Google Hangouts was simply ahead of its time when it came to what a messaging app should include natively. Hangouts is going down, but if we’re being honest, almost every other messaging service is capable of the same stuff these days. There are plenty of decent replacements now. That wasn’t true in

Google Hangouts was a rock-solid product with a lot of innovative features for its time. However, much like Google Plus, it felt more like a home for us tech enthusiasts than a mainstream product. It certainly moved the needle. However, it didn’t move the needle enough to convince people to leave their other chat apps. The chat app will live on in our memories, even if Google forgot about it years ago.

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The slow, painful death of Google Hangouts is reaching its final phase

By Scott Scrivens


It&#;s time to say goodbye and switch to Chat

Hangouts is one of Google's most established messaging apps, but it's been dying a slow deathfor quite some time now. The transition to Google Chat is mostly complete for Google Workspace business users, but personal account holders have been able to hang on (sorry) for a bit longer. It looks like Google is preparing to put a stop to that, though.

Personal users who try to use the Android or iOS apps are being greeted by a blue banner explaining that Hangouts is not long for this world (via 9to5Google). You're encouraged to "Switch to Chat in Gmail" and if you press that button, you'll be signed out of Hangouts with that account and taken to the Chat section in Gmail. If you're still actively using the app, this means you'll no longer receive notifications or be able to send messages anymore. This really is the beginning of the end.


You can still add your account back in the Hangouts app if you really want to squeeze every last second of life out of it, but it will be going away for good soon enough, so maybe it's time to get used to the new way of doing things before you have no choice.

Google is also rolling out a similar message to the web version of the Hangouts app, but it won't sign you out there — rather, it opens a new tab with Google Chat in the hope that you'll forget all about the service you've been using for years. It'll also prompt you to install the Chat desktop app.

While we know the enterprise version of Hangouts will stop working later this year, there's no official word on when the service will shut down for personal accounts. These latest moves suggest that will be sooner rather than later, so don't expect free accounts to have access any longer than business ones. Hangouts will likely be dead by the end of the year, in every sense, so say you better say your goodbyes now. Check out Ryne's excellent retrospective if you'd like to reminisce and shed a tear.

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About The Author
Scott Scrivens ( Articles Published)

Senior UK Editor — My interest in Android began with the beautiful Nexus 4 and the less-ugly-than-before Jelly Bean. Right now, I'm probably watching Black Books, playing football (soccer), or listening to Answer Code Request.

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Hangouts shutting down as Google Chat becomes main focus

Google has been in the process of shutting down Hangouts for some time, and now, the app is losing its Voice and Fi integration.

Currently, users can only use Hangouts to message individuals or groups with text. Video calling has essentially been removed and transferred over to Google Meet.

Google outlined its plans to phase out Hangouts in a blog post that was released back in October of last year. The company aims to make way for an upgrade to Google Chat in the very near future, and the removal of voice and Fi features in Hangouts is part of that plan. Google Fi isn&#;t actually available in Canada though, so that&#;s one less change to worry about.

Users are now being asked to completely switch to Google Voice as part of the company&#;s upgrade plan by using the Voice app found on iOS, Android, or the web. You won&#;t lose anything by switching over. Your number and message history data will be transferred automatically.

It&#;s important to note that users will only be able to export their current Hangouts data until July , so it might be better to make the transition sooner rather than later. With the risk of losing your old data, moving forward with the upgrade plans is your best option.


Of life end hangouts

Google signing free users out of Hangouts for iOS, Android as part of &#;switch to Chat&#; prompt

In late , classic Hangouts will stop working for enterprise Workspace customers and only Google Chat will be available. Google is now beginning that process of deprecating the Hangouts app and website for free personal accounts with a warning and sign out.

As we were expecting, opening Hangouts for Android and iOS today shows a blue &#;Hangouts is being replaced by Google Chat&#; banner at the top:

Your conversations from the last year are already in Chat, and older conversations will be available later.

&#;Learn more&#; takes you to a support document, while there&#;s a &#;Switch to Chat in Gmail&#; option. Tapping that button will sign you out of the Hangouts mobile app before opening Gmail — even if you have the standalone Google Chat app installed — as the company is focused on the unified (Gmail, Chat, Meet) experience.

In signing users out, they will no longer get notifications from Hangouts or be able to message with the app. This is a big step ahead of shutting down the legacy service by making sure nobody needs or uses it. However, it&#;s reversible for those that still want to use the classic Hangouts client by re-adding their Gmail account after opening the mobile application.

Hangouts signing out
Hangouts signing out

Meanwhile, throws up a similar &#;It&#;s time to switch to Google Chat&#; message. It takes you to the standalone web experience. 

Hangouts is going away soon, switch to Google Chat now to continue your Hangouts conversations with new features.

Google has yet to announce an end date for free accounts using classic Hangouts. On the enterprise side, the &#;mandatory upgrade&#; will occur in late when: 

All remaining classic Hangouts customers will be migrated to &#;Chat Preferred,&#; and we&#;ll fully replace classic Hangouts with Chat. 

More about Hangouts:

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Google is starting the process of shutting down its Hangouts app and migrating users to Google Chat, the company said in a blog post Thursday. The move makes good on plans Google originally laid out in , when it retired Hangout support for G Suite customers and hinted that support for individual users would follow suit in

"Starting in the first half of , everyone can begin upgrading from Hangouts to Chat," Google said in the post. "To ensure a smooth transition, we will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history." The company adds that it'll share more guidance when the transition begins, with exact timing still to be determined.

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As part of the move, Google said it plans to end Fi support in Hangouts early next year, with the same SMS access relocated to the Messages app.

"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," Google said. "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."

Read more:Stop being jealous of iMessage. How to use Google's fancy texting on Android phones

Google said that a similar transition to the Voice app is in store for Google Voice users, adding that it won't be long before you aren't able to make phone calls from the Hangouts app at all.

"New telecommunications regulations are being introduced in the EU and US beginning in ," Google said. "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."

The changes come during a time in which videoconferencing services are booming due to continued efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID In April, Google told CNET that its Meet videoconferencing software was adding 2 million users a day after logging 2 billion minutes of video calls during March. Key competitor Zoom saw its own surge of users at the onset of the pandemic, with a jump of more than million users between March and April.


Now discussing:

The life and death of Hangouts: A Google tragedy

The transition from Hangouts to Google Chat is now happening in earnest, with many even reporting that their group conversations have moved between the two platforms. It's just a matter of time until Hangouts itself is retired, so let's take a moment to look back at Google's most successful — and, perhaps, most ignored — messaging platform.

Just one more messaging service, promise

Hangouts debuted at Google I/O It started as a means of unifying Google's then-fragmented messaging approach — ironically, the same justification for its demise now. This new messaging service had long been rumored, and it was even given a pretentious in-development name that reflected this unifying goal: Babel.

We may joke that Google's repeated answer to its shortsighted and fragmented messaging approach is always to introduce yet another option, but Hangouts did truly bring together what was otherwise a series of disconnected services. Back then, Google had Google Talk, Messaging, Google+ Messenger, and a separate Hangouts feature which was built into Google+ — the company's now-dead social networking service.

This first Hangouts was for video calls, and Google's slightly different approach almost predicted the rise of upcoming services like Twitch, Clubhouse, and Zoom. With a Google+ Hangouts, you could open up a group video call that anyone in selected "circles" could drop into and out of at will. And, if you wanted, you could even blast a Hangouts on Air to the world at large — that's the format our Android Police podcast took for years.

Still, Google had four separate messaging services, and the company decided it was time to bring them all together under one roof. Leveraging its acquisition of a company called Meebo, it got to work, and on May 15th of , Hangouts was unveiled to the world.

Babel on

The new Hangouts started life as a drop-in Google Talk replacement. Although SMS and Google Voice integration would come later, it didn't start with either — failing that goal of unification right out of the gate. Still, it was Google's best messaging service to date.

Image Gallery (12 Images)

Hangouts was simple and intuitive. The default view spat you to a sort of contact list inbox for current conversations. A big, easily spotted plus icon started a new Hangout, you could add people or even whole circles to in-progress group chats. The focus was clearly on using Hangouts in a group setting, rather than as a one-on-one messaging app. But everything worked with what were considered beautiful animations at the time and easy video calling integration. You could even use it from your computer, courtesy of a Chrome extension and support built right into Gmail.

Still, Google had hyped the new service as replacing more than it did to start. At best, it was just a much-improved version of Google Talk, not the last, final unifying messaging service we were promised. In our early hands-on of the service, Ron Amadeo called it "a disappointment" and "another instant messaging client."

Google didn't rest in the face of that criticism, though. Just a few months later, the anticipated SMS support was officially announced and then almost immediately released. The next year, in , Hangouts would offer to merge those SMS conversations together with your Hangouts communications. This was the closest Android ever got to an iMessage competitor, complete with SMS-based fallback and a unified conversation view.

Image Gallery (1 Images)


At the same time, Google was bringing in Google Voice integration. (Some claimed this would be the end of Google Voice, though even now, seven years later in , those predictions haven't panned out.) But in the summer of , Google Voice's integration into Hangouts was finally complete, even though it would retain its separate app and service. A dedicated Hangouts Dialer app even made this last addition official. These changes rolled out together with a new, brighter green redesign, and Google finally made good on its promise to merge its four messaging services into one.

The Hangouts golden era — remembered without the bugs

Image Gallery (4 Images)





The slow evolution of the Hangouts Android app. 

From to , Hangouts enjoyed its golden era. It wasn't exactly ahead of the curve compared to things like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or iMessage, and it slowly built a reputation for bugs as it added features, but it still had the right mix to secure its place. For many of us, this was the peak of Android messaging, and Hangouts was the closest Google ever came to "getting it right."

Google started decoupling parts of Hangouts from Google+, and we enjoyed a years-long steady trickle of new features, from Hangouts not-so-well-known animated Easter eggs, to Project Fi support, and even Google Now integration for voice commands. It didn't get a drastic new redesign every year, but Hangouts accomplished what it needed to.

Image Gallery (1 Images)


The Hangouts Chrome app picked up a snazzy new redesign in , code-named Ultra Violet during its development. This new, more transparent UI made use of a Facebook-style "chat heads" layout, similar to the bubble notifications Google has come back to in Android Just a year later, the Chrome app picked up what would be its last new look: A more Material Design version that was closer to the Android app's layout.

Google was looking for new ways to monetize the service, like adding live chat for businesses. The sleeper hit reached the Android mainstream in as Hangouts passed a billion installs at the Play Store, and the app got cleaner and slicker in terms of design. It even picked up its own website, which still exists today. Ultimately, Google Talk was retired, having been long-since replaced by Hangouts, though some bits would live on in the background until

Image Gallery (2 Images)



The Hangouts Chrome app (above left) and extension (above right) in the standard layout. The transparent UI (below) would bug out basically constantly.

Image Gallery (1 Images)


This was the era when I really came to depend on Hangouts personally, and I suspect the same is true for many of our readers. Sure, it never "just worked," and Hangouts had a reputation for being buggy in the extreme. From notification issues, to delayed messages, and even just generally janky and sluggish performance, Hangouts was almost a meme for Google's often half-baked approach to things. But, if you could suffer through its various bugs, Hangouts was functional, it had most of the features we wanted, and the hope was always there that Google could fix it.

It wasn't quite the iMessage for Android that some of us wanted, but in a lot of ways, it was surprisingly close.

It wasn't quite the iMessage for Android that some of us wanted, but in a lot of ways, it was surprisingly close. If you were willing to use Google Voice, you got cross-platform SMS messaging integrated directly with Google's IM client. But even if your phone number didn't make that transition for the full experience, Hangouts was simple, easy to use (when it worked), it still supported SMS fallback, and it was nearly ubiquitous among the Android faithful.

But there was trouble in paradise, even at the moment of Hangouts' greatest success. Rather than fix Hangouts' bugs and anecdotal jank, Google couldn't resist the siren song it always gives in to: What's the harm in just one more messaging service?

Hello Allo, and goodbye Hangouts

Even with this new unified Hangouts under its belt, Google unveiled Allo at I/O From day one, Allo was at odds with Hangouts' expressed goal of unification: Allo would be a separate, standalone service. Google initially claimed that it would continue to invest in Hangouts as a distinct product that Allo would live alongside of, but the company's attitudes changed almost immediately. Mere weeks later, Google would admit that Hangouts was going to be a business product going forward.

Image Gallery (1 Images)


Less than a month after Allo and Duo were revealed, Hangouts lost its much-loved (if often buggy) SMS conversation merging. Just later, Hangouts On Air became part of YouTube Live, and Hangouts itself became an "optional" part of the Google Apps package. Its era was over, but the long, drawn-out death would stretch on for years.

I won't dive too deeply into the history of Allo (we did that once already) but it was a clear change in Google's messaging approach, and a far-too-late response to WhatsApp's success. If it was too flash-in-the-pan for you to remember, Allo was a simpler messaging service loaded with stickers and not much else that was tied somewhat anachronistically to your phone number. There was a web client, but it didn't land until Allo had already been out for a while, and it imposed its own arbitrary limitations, like the fact that it couldn't work without connecting to your phone — an issue Hangouts didn't have.

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For a moment, Allo was the #1 app on the Play Store, though it didn't last long. 

In , as Hangouts languished in Google's forgotten pile of services, the company finally split Hangouts up, introducing new Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat services meant for business. One handled video conferencing, the other was a Slack-like service.

Finally, SMS support in Hangouts was outright killed. Google Voice began disentangling itself from the Hangouts amalgamation in as Hangouts Chat debuted, and by the end of the year, Hangouts was rumored to be on the chopping block. On life support, Hangouts went months without bug fixes and lost features when it did get updated.

Details regarding the transition took years to trickle out, and Google went against its own claims more than once. Remember that explicitly business-oriented Hangouts Chat service Google spun off? Turns out, that's where the consumer Hangouts would be going. The company would spend the next two years transitioning and merging Hangouts bit by bit behind the scenes to its spun-off successor, as Allo was also finally killed when it failed to take off.

Over just five years, Google went from unifying all its messaging efforts behind a single name, to starting entirely new services and spinning off as many as it could from Hangouts' slowly decaying corpse, all to ultimately return back where it started and bring multiple messaging platforms back under one umbrella with Hangouts Chat — which would shortly be renamed Google Chat. Google claims it has since reorganized all its messaging services under one group at the G Suite (now Google Workspace) team.

Let's Chat — or not

For the last two years, Hangouts has been in a holding pattern as we've waited for the transition to Google Chat. And based on recent reports, it's nearing completion. For months, we've seen reports of Hangouts conversations appearing in Google Chat, and more recently, Hangouts users claim to have seen group conversations make the trip as well. Google is even officially calling this early glimpse a "preview" now, and a Google Chat web interface has gone live for personal/non-Workspace Google accounts.

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Google Chat in Dark Theme. 

Google has been explicit that the transition to Chat would happen officially sometime in the first half of , with all our chat history, contacts, and conversations moving over. A mere few months remain by that timeline as we all prepare to make the trip, which could happen any day now.

Looking back across the last decade, it's easy to remember all the things Hangouts did right while glossing over its failings. There's no getting around the fact that, even at the best of times, Hangouts was often a buggy and frustrating experience — if not an outright dumpster fire. But it was far from a failure, and sometimes I reflect on what Hangouts could have been if Google had redirected all the effort that went into Allo to iron out its issues.

I still use Hangouts daily, and while I'm sure that puts me in the minority, I doubt that I'm alone. It's nearly impossible to get people to move between messaging services once a group is entrenched, and for many of my friends and me, the transition to Hangouts last decade was permanent. While we'll all be along for the forced march to Google Chat, I'm not sure every conversation will really survive that change.

what's stopping Google from spinning off yet another service?

Many of the same people I use Hangouts to talk to are upset about how frequently Google abandons its services. It's not a meme anymore, it's an outright fact and a point of customer frustration. While this transition from Hangouts to Chat isn't really the end, and functionality and history should be preserved, simply moving between apps may be too big a trip for many of the people I know to make in light of this concern.

After all, what's stopping Google from spinning off yet another service? In three years, Chat could be broken up again to accommodate the mercurial whims of Google's ever-changing project management. If the people I use Hangouts to talk to have to change which app they open to read my messages, there's a very good chance, when forced, they will take the opportunity to pick up something else entirely, and I don't blame them at all — I'll probably do the same.

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Ryne Hager ( Articles Published)

Ostensibly a senior editor, in reality just some verbose dude who digs on tech, loves Android, and hates anticompetitive practices. His only regret is that he didn't buy a Nokia N9 in Email tips or corrections to ryne at androidpolice dot com.

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