Google continues to play musical chairs with its communication tools, as the company announced that it will gradually transition Hangouts users into Chat in 2021.
Google Hangouts has been on the way out for quite a while now. In 2018, Google insisted that the communication tool would be disbanded in favor of Google Meet, the video conferencing tool, and a Google Chat, the messaging platform. However, whether it be the pandemic or the lack of a reasonable replacement, Hangouts has stuck around for nearly two years after its death sentence.
Now, it seems Google is finally pulling the trigger, with plans to eventually scrap Hangouts in favor of Google Chat and Google Meet sometime next year.
Google Transitioning Hangouts to Chat
According to a Google blog post, the company plans to transition all users from Hangouts to Chat within the first half of 2021, leading to the eventually dismantling of Hangouts as a whole. To make the transition as easy as possible, Google will also help migrate all previous Hangouts conversations into Chat.
Previously, Google Chat was a paid messaging platform for Google Workplace (the rebranded name for G-Suite), which was not available to everyday users. However, this move will also see Chat becoming a free tool, available through Google Workplace, as well as Gmail and its own Chat mobile app.
Google Chat will now offers features found in Hangouts, including “direct and group messaging, with helpful additions like send to inbox, faster search, emoji reactions, and suggested replies.”
What about Google Hangouts for Video and Voice?
Google Hangouts was obviously a versatile platform, and that means that its demise requires some serious adjustment for its users. Fortunately, Google has been setting up those adjustments for the last two years.
For video chat, Google Meet is a decidedly better option across the board than Hangouts. Its free plan allows for up to 100 participants for up to an hour, and offers a wide range of features, including adjustable screen layouts, meeting host controls, screen sharing, and most importantly, gallery view, all of which were not available with Google Hangouts.
Hangouts users have been directed to use Google Meet for a while now, but this new change will make it mandatory next year, so you might as well get a jump on it now.
Check out our Google Meet review for more information
For voice, Google Voice has been waiting in the wings for its big moment, and it's finally here. This service will allow for “easy switching between internet and carrier calls, enhanced internet calling reliability, and updated experiences on web and mobile platforms to help users manage everything from one place.”
Hangouts users will be directed to use the Voice app soon, and by early next year, Voice support in Hangouts will be entirely removed.
Google Hangouts Alternatives
If all the transitioning and rebranding are too much for you, there are a wide range of Google alternatives on the market that can improve communication at home or for your business.
Take a look at some of the alternatives below if you're interested in moving on from your Google dependance.
If you haven't heard of Zoom by now, you've likely been living under a rock during the pandemic. This video conferencing app saw a meteoric rise in March, with hundreds of millions of users flocking to the software for its ease of use and socially-minded features.
Zoom admittedly experienced some security problems due to the influx of users, but it has since remedied them, so you won't have to worry about your meetings being interrupted by unwanted guests or security breaches.
In fact, we believe Zoom is one of the best web conferencing platforms available today, so it's definitely worth a shot, particularly when it offers such a robust free plan.
- Easy to use
- Broad functionality
- Free version available
- Poor audio quality
- Lots of features are only available as add-ons
- 40-minute meeting limit on free plan
If you're looking for a more business-minded video conferencing solution, you can't get much better than GoToMeeting. Our in-depth research found that this affordable platform offers the largest feature catalogue on the market, as well as an easy to use platform that even beginners can handle.
Check out our GoToMeeting review for more information
Unfortunately, GoToMeeting does not offer a free plan, so it's definitely an option for companies in need of a meeting solution, rather than a casual user trying to organize a virtual social gathering. It does, however, offer a 14-day free trial, so you can get a feel for the software before you make a purchasing decision.
- 14-day free trial
- High quality audio and video
- Very reliable and secure
- Lower cost than competitors
- Weak free plan
- Relies on a very strong internet connection
- Webinar features requires GoToWebinar integration
The reality is that the video conferencing market is filled to the rafters with great providers that could offer you what you're looking for. Take a look at this table to get a better idea of what kind of options are available to you when it comes to free video conferencing software providers.
Average rating given by iOS and Android users in App Store and Google Play Store reviews
Google Workspace users
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Comprehensive setup process
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Too few participants allowed