Google is adding support for Hangouts group conversations to its Chat service from December 3. This makes it easier for users to switch to Chat without losing their groups or chat messages. Google Chat is currently only available to businesses, but will also be available to consumers next year.
Group conversations from Hangouts will appear in Google Chat “ for the next few weeks, ” the company reports in a blog post . Initially, only the conversations themselves will appear in Chat; conversation history and messages will follow shortly thereafter, Google reports. This makes it easier for users to switch from Hangouts to Google Chat, without ‘losing context’. Google Chat is currently only available to companies using Google Workspaces. In the first half of 2021, the service will also be available free of charge to all users . Consumers can then switch from Hangouts to Google Chat, also keeping their messages, contacts and conversations. Hangouts will then be phased out over time.
Additionally, group conversations in Google Chat will get some other new features on December 3. This allows users to add new members to an existing group conversation from then on. When users do this, all group members will be notified when a new member is added. Those new members then get access to the full chat history within that group. Users can also choose to start a new group conversation with the same people from a current group.
On the other hand, one-on-one conversations, ‘updated group conversations’ and unthreaded rooms from Google Chat are coming to the classic Hangouts service soon. This should increase compatibility between the Chat and Hangouts services, as long as the latter is still supported.
Google already decided two years ago to eventually discontinue Hangouts , which had long been the standard video and chat service. That should happen in 2020, but the service is still usable. Initially, the chat service would merge with Allo and Duo, but Google now seems to offer Chat and Meet respectively as replacement services for text and video calls respectively. Google already stopped video calling for groups in Hangouts last week .