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Google reveals timeline for retirement of 'classic' Hangouts (Update: Google clarifies)

The "classic" version of Google Hangouts is not long for this world, and here's how it will go down.

Published onJanuary 22, 2019

Update, January 22, 2019 (06:42 PM ET): We received word from Google after publishing this article with some clarifying remarks on the status of Google Hangouts. In the article below, we suggest that Google will be splitting off paid and free versions of Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. However, Google sent over a statement saying that “there is no difference between the consumer-facing version and the G Suite version” of Meet/Chat — much like there is no difference between the Gmail app for consumers and G Suite customers today.

So, it seems that Google Hangouts Chat will eventually be a full, free replacement to the current classic Hangouts. It will just take some time to get there.

Original Article, January 22, 2019 (01:25 PM ET): Towards the end of 2018, word leaked that Google intends to dismantle the “classic” version of Google Hangouts, one of its many messaging apps. Google eventually released a statement on the matter, confirming that current Hangouts users will be migrated to Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.

Today, Google revealed a rough timeline for that transition, via 9to5Google.

The somewhat-vague schedule is detailed below. However, the most important thing to note for you folks who are currently using classic Hangouts is that you have plenty of time: we don’t expect Google to fully retire the service until 2020, at the earliest.

Even then, when classic Hangouts goes the way of the many Google messaging apps before it, most (if not all) the features in classic Hangouts will be available in Hangouts Chat. In other words, the Hangouts app will eventually be gone, but Hangouts Chat will likely do everything you need by then.

Here’s the schedule:

  • April 16, 2019 — G Suite admins will be able to transition current classic Hangouts users to Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.
  • October 2019 — Google will begin to wind down Hangouts in G Suite, forcing all G Suite users to move to Meet/Chat.

It’s very likely that after October 2019 Google will start migrating the public from classic Hangouts to the “new” Hangouts Meet/Chat, as usually G Suite changes preclude consumer-facing changes. With that in mind, we estimate that Google will likely start to dismantle classic Hangouts sometime in 2020.

The timeline isn’t super specific, but Google promised that a more detailed schedule will be revealed “at a later date.”

Google Hangouts might finally shut down in 2020 (Update #2: Google's official response)

One of the curious bits of information in the reveal of this timeline is how Google refers to Meet/Chat. The company says that it expects to “transition consumers to free Chat and Meet following the transition of G Suite customers.” The use of the word “free” there leads us to believe that there will be two versions of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat: one that’s free and one that’s not (see above update).

However, Google encourages the use of Messages (formerly Android Messages) and Google Duo for most consumer needs.

What do you think? Is Google moving in the right direction here, or is this even more confusing than things are already? Let us know in the comments.

NEXT: Video messaging is now here for Google Duo

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