Google is ramping up efforts to replace Google Hangouts with Google Chat. The company has announced that starting December 3, group conversations in Hangouts will begin to appear under the Chat tab on Gmail. Additionally, Google Chat that is currently available to Google Workspace and other premium customers will allow users to add and change members of new group conversations. Earlier in October, the software giant had announced that the Google Hangouts would officially retire in the first half of 2021 and its users will be migrated to either Chat or Google Meet. Moreover, Chat will be available as a free service next year — both in the integrated experience in Gmail and the standalone app.
The new development also means that old group messages will automatically migrate to Google Chat. "These changes further ensure compatibility between classic Hangouts and Chat to make migrating your users as seamless as possible," Google in a blog post added. Moreover, Google Chat will now alert members about the addition of a new user on the group. The new member will be able to see the entire conversation, even messages sent before they entered, allowing them to catch up easily. Similarly, a group conversation can be easily created by using the 'Start a new chat' option in the conversation settings menu.
At the same time, Google Chat's 1:1 messages, updated group conversations, and unthreaded rooms will begin to appear in Hangouts for Google services that still have the platform integrated. This transfer of conversations and saved history from Hangouts is meant to ensure a "smooth transition" and preserve context. Lastly, Google is also making changes to Vault retention policies. "If you set custom Chat retention rules in Google Vault, the scope of coverage will change. Rules set for 'All Chat Spaces' will apply to existing chat rooms, plus updated group messages and group messages," Google explained.
All the new updates will rollout starting December 3 to all customers with Google Workspace plans such as Workspace Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, as well as G Suite Basic, Business, Education, Enterprise for Education, and Nonprofits. The upcoming Google Chat features will not be available to Google Workspace Essentials and Enterprise Essentials customers.