Things are shaking up again in the ever-quaking world of Google’s endless messaging apps. Yesterday, we reported that Google’s Hangouts messaging service would shut down some time in 2020. While one Googler has refuted that timeline, he’s not denied that what he calls the “classic version of Hangouts” is on the way out, and one step of this process is to open Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat to consumers.

Hangouts Meet is Google’s latest video conferencing app which allows up to 100 people to connect. Hangouts Chat, on the other hand, is Google’s recently launched Slack alternative, allowing G Suite organizations to create group chats and channels for internal discussions. Hangouts Chat is well-integrated with Meet, and is the most obviously enterprise-minded of the two services.

According to Google’s product lead for Hangouts, Scott Johnston, both of these G Suite-only services will make the transition to become consumer-ready before “Hangouts classic” is phased out. The move is an interesting one, as neither service stands out as being particularly well-suited for consumer needs, though Discord has at least proven there can be demand for in-depth group chat experience within some markets.

It is clear from his use of the word “migrate” that current consumers of Hangouts will at some point be expected to switch from the single Hangouts app to the combination of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat (a combo reminiscent of Allo and Duo). It’s not yet known if certain features of the two services, like 100 person conference calls, will remain enterprise-only or have new optional costs attached.

Johnston had no further clarification to offer for when we can expect to see this transition occur, but did re-assure Google Fi users that the classic Hangouts will not be shut down until they are able to use a different app.

Update: A Google spokesperson reached out to clarify the future of Hangouts classic, Hangouts Chat, and Hangouts Meet.

In March 2017, we announced plans to evolve classic Hangouts to focus on two experiences that help bring teams together: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Both Chat and Meet are available today for G Suite customers and will be made available for consumer users, too. We have not announced an official timeline for transitioning users from classic Hangouts to Chat and Meet. We are fully committed to supporting classic Hangouts users until everyone is successfully migrated to Chat and Meet.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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