Alongside initial details on the transition of G Suite users from classic Hangouts to Hangouts Chat & Meet, Google is also giving us just a little bit more info on the transition from ‘classic’ Hangouts to free Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet for consumers.
The company confirmed classic Hangouts’ eventual retirement last year and announced that it would continue to support these users until Hangouts Chat reached feature parity, but now Google’s giving us our first idea of a timeframe: “following the transition of G Suite customers”.
We will continue to support consumer use of classic Hangouts, and expect to transition consumers to free Chat and Meet following the transition of G Suite customers. A more specific timeline will be communicated at a later date.
Given that the transition for G Suite customers starts on April 16th 2019, and will conclude as Google winds down classic Hangouts for G Suite in October, it sounds like the retirement of classic Hangouts for consumers could begin late this year and continue into 2020.
Hangouts Chat, by then, will carry many if not all of the classic Hangouts features Google says it’s bringing to the G Suite version. The features Google today announced would be coming to Hangouts Chat over the course of the next several months for G Suite users: integration with Gmail, chatting with users external to your organization, improved video calling, and making calls with Google Voice.
Worth noting is that Google mentions “free” Chat and Meet in this blog post. There aren’t any details yet, but Google told The Verge last year that Hangouts Chat would follow a “freemium” model — all free Gmail account holders will be able to give it a shot, but Google’s not saying yet which features will require a subscription.
If you’re still using Hangouts as your consumer messaging platform of choice, Hangouts Chat will still be available to you and bring much of the same functionality after the classic version is turned down. Google has encouraged use of its Messages app and Google Duo for most consumer needs, however.