Google Chat seems to be offering a preview of Hangouts support to some lucky users. Google previously announced that Hangouts users will be migrated to a free version of Google Chat, which is essentially a competitor to Slack, in the first half of 2021.
Ars Technica Ron Amadeo was among the first to spot a “Preview” message from Hangouts when opening Google Chat. We received the same prompt in the Chat app. Google said it will automatically migrate Hangouts conversations during the transition, as well as contacts and saved history.
My Google Chat now displays this “Preview” message from Hangouts.
It looks like all of my individual contacts are working and can be accessed through the search bar.
The only feature missing now is group chat. pic.twitter.com/Vf8mLahrbE
– Ron Amadeo (@RonAmadeo) February 24, 2021
There is a big problem with this “Preview”, and that is that the Hangouts group chats have still not been migrated. You can, however, create a “room” in Chat and invite everyone. Best of all, the room you create also appears as a group chat in Hangouts.
Amadeo notes that there also doesn’t appear to be a way to make an individual video call. “Google Chat always wants to paste a URL for a corporate ‘video meeting’ in the chat,” Amadeo said. In Hangouts, starting a video call with someone caused the recipient’s phone to ring.
The Google Chat preview for Hangouts doesn’t appear to be available to all free users yet, so don’t worry if you don’t see the prompt. Keep in mind that Google previously said the transition would officially happen in the first half of 2021, so there is still time for a wider rollout.
Once Hangouts users migrate to Chat, they will be able to access faster search, use emoji reactions, and share and collaborate on files. The free version of Google Chat will always include additional phishing protections as part of Google’s Safe Browsing initiative.
Speaking of Hangouts, Google recently said that from March 2021, Fi users will no longer be able to use the service to send or receive text messages or make and receive voice calls and voicemail messages.
Update 1: Hangouts group chats migration
One of the missing pieces of the puzzle for the long-awaited Hangouts -> Chat Migration is what will happen to group chats, but we can confirm that Google is migrating all group chats. ArsTechnicaAccording to Ron Amadeo, his chat experience is now “fully operational” after the transfer of around 70 group chats from Hangouts. All group chats with custom names have been migrated to the Chat Rooms tab, while those without a name appear in the regular Chat tab.
My Google Chat is now FULLY OPERATIONAL. About 70 Hangouts group chats were transferred.
It seems that those with custom names have gone to the “Rooms” tabs while those without a name are in “Chat”.
This is going to be a lot of cleaning up. pic.twitter.com/2VRmPlP38G
– Ron Amadeo (@RonAmadeo) March 6, 2021
For most regular users, this means Chat can completely replace Hangouts. However, as Amadeo points out, there are still some delays. For one thing, text messages sent to Google Voice numbers still show up in Hangouts for him, so some Voice subscribers will have to hang on to the app right now. Second, there doesn’t seem to be a way to start a video call from the Chat web app. These are two minor issues that won’t affect many users, and it’s only a matter of time before all of Hangouts’ unique features are transferred to another service.