In addition to announcing a Phone subscription program, Google today emailed Fi subscribers about how to “Move [their] conversations to Messages by Google.” Support documents lay out in detail what to expect and that Fi texting in the Hangouts app will stop working at the start of next year.

Hangouts users are encouraged to start using the Messages app. Google announced as much last week (and also revealed that a free version of Google Chat is set for 2021). Customers will have the option to use “another texting app,” but Messages is getting a major update that’s tailored to Fi customers and adds many classic features.

The biggest will be a significantly upgraded “Messages for web” experience that lets you make calls and check voicemail online. However, the new desktop experience will not let you use RCS “chat.”

  • Option 1: Send and receive texts only (chat features available with this option)

RCS allows for high-resolution photos and typing indicators, but you’ll be using the exact same QR code pairing process available today that requires “your phone to stay connected” to the web browser. 

  • Option 2: Text, make calls, and check voicemail that sync to your Google Account (chat features not available with this option)

The alternative is more akin to what classic Hangouts does on the web. You’ll also have the key ability to transfer your old texts (SMS/MMS) from Hangouts, which option 1 does not allow.

Make calls, send texts, and check voicemail with your phone or computer. Even when your phone is off, text conversations stay synced across the Messages mobile app, Messages for web, and Hangouts (while Hangouts supports Fi).

For a similar experience to Hangouts, we recommend you use Option 2.

Behind the scenes, Google notes that “Call history is stored online for 180 days and doesn’t sync with the Google Phone app,” and that “Text messages and voicemail are stored online until you delete them.”

Option 2 is not yet here and will go live in the Messages app over the “coming days.” The following instructions will let Google Fi be associated with Messages for web, and migrate Hangouts history: 

  1. [In Messages for Android] Go to Settings > Advanced > Google Fi settings. If this option isn’t available yet, check back later
  2. Sign in using your Google Fi account
  3. Tap Sync conversations
  4. Come back and refresh this page if it hasn’t updated

Looking ahead, you won’t be able to use the classic Hangouts apps to send/receive texts or make/receive voice calls and voicemail on January 19, 2021. By that date, users will be defaulted to Option 1.

If you don’t switch to Messages or another texting app by January 19th, 2021 your phone will default to using your phone’s standard SMS app at that time. Please note that your text message history won’t be transferred from Hangouts, but you can always download it using Google Takeout

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: