Google told Fi subscribers last year that classic Hangouts would no longer support texting or calling in January. A week before the deadline, Google has pushed back that deadline for MVNO subscribers to March.
Fi members have long been able to use classic Hangouts to send SMS/MMS, make/receive calls, and get voicemail. Given the cross-platform nature of Hangouts, Fi users could access their MVNO number of any Android or iOS device, as well as the web through hangouts.google.com and even Gmail.
Google announced in October that Fi would stop working with Hangouts ahead of the classic app’s broader deprecation (to make way for Chat and Meet). This shutdown was planned for January 19, but the “Learn more about the end of Hangouts support for Fi” support document has since been updated to “starting in March 2021.”
Subscribers are encouraged to use Google Messages. When this shutdown was announced in October, the company introduced a big update to Messages for web that replicates the multi-device aspects of classic Hangouts.
Users can text, make calls, and check Fi voicemail using Messages for web. It works by syncing everything to your Google Account with the ability to transfer existing SMS/MMS history to messages.google.com. This is touted as delivering a “similar experience to Hangouts” and the recommended solution. However, this sync means that users miss out on RCS chat features like read receipts.
This solution is primarily focused on letting you access MVNO service on your laptop/desktop. Fi users on iOS are still miffed at the lack of a native app.
If you don’t switch to Messages by that deadline, the ability to seamlessly transfer conversations in Hangouts to the new app will disappear, though Takeout will remain an option. Google does note in the document today that “you can only transfer your SMS/MMS data from Hangouts to Messages until September 30, 2021.”
Looking at the overall deprecation of Hangouts, January 19 was the only precise date that Google provided last year. Classic Hangouts will stop ringing when you receive a Google Voice call “early” this year. On the enterprise side, Hangouts will be fully replaced by Chat as part of a “mandatory upgrade” in late 2021.
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