Update #2 (December 3, 2018 at 3:17 p.m. ET): A Google spokesperson reached out to Android Authority with the company’s official response on the Hangouts confusion:
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.
Update #1 (December 1, 2018, 2:35 p.m. ET): In a surprising turn of events, Scott Johnston, Realtime Comms product lead in G Suite and head of Hangouts at Google, responded (somewhat aggressively) to 9to5Google’s report. After calling it “shoddy reporting,” Johnston went on in a string of tweets to confirm that those still using the “classic” Hangouts will eventually be migrated to Hangouts Chat and Meet.
While this doesn’t confirm the rumored 2020 timeframe, it does endorse the report that Google does plan to shut Hangouts down eventually.
Hey @hallstephenj, I run Hangouts and this is pretty shoddy reporting. No decisions made about when Hangouts will be shut down. Hangouts users will be upgraded to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Your source is severely misinformed. You can do better.— Scott Johnston (@happyinwater) December 1, 2018
Original post (November 30, 2018, 3:34 p.m. ET)It’s been a long time coming, but Google might finally put the kibosh on Hangouts in 2020. According to 9to5Google, citing sources familiar with Google’s roadmap, the legacy messaging app will shut down for consumers after next year. No specific timeframe was mentioned.
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise — in March 2017, Google announced Hangouts would split into two enterprise-focused apps: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Ever since that announcement, the company began winding down support for the consumer version of Hangouts. It removed SMS support from the app in May 2017, urging users to instead use Android Messages. Hangouts also hasn’t received any notable updates for awhile, and many die hard users have been reporting bugs as of late.
Google isn’t giving up on consumer-facing chat apps though (let’s face it, it never will). Following the underwhelming push to make Google Allo catch on, the company announced its continued efforts to bring RCS features to as many carriers and smartphones as it can. The RCS standard is designed to improve messaging functionality that’s installed on smartphones by default. Down the line when RCS is widely adopted, you’ll be able to see read receipts, chat with multiple people without it being a horrible experience, and send media messages up to 10MB from your standard texting app.
If you’ve yet to wean yourself off Hangouts, now may be the time to do so. Feel free to check out our best messaging apps list if you need a replacement.