As part of the change, Google Chat, a messaging app previously only available to paying customers, is becoming a free app available within Gmail and as a standalone app.
Google says: It contains features (Google Hangouts), such as individual and group messaging, in addition to the ability to send to the inbox, faster searches, emoji responses, and suggested responses.
Google will begin in the first half of 2021 by moving everyone from (Google Hangouts) to (Google Chat), with the transfer of conversations, contacts and archives automatically.
It did not explain how the transition will be implemented for users of the free version of (Google Hangouts), and says: It will provide more specific instructions about the steps users should take when starting the transfer process.
Google explains that the benefit of Google Chat is to facilitate planning with others about goals and similar interests, sharing and collaborating on files, and assigning tasks.
The future of Google Hangouts has been uncertain for some time, with reports in 2018 that Google was planning to close it in 2020 and focus on Google Meet and Google Chat.
Google said: The transition from (Google Hangouts) free to (Google Chat) free will happen gradually.
And it is considered that (Google Chat) has replaced (Google Hangouts) after the transfer of all users and clients of (Google Workspace) free to (Google Chat).
Google published an update on migrating Google Workspace customers from (Google Hangouts) to (Google Chat) indicating late 2021 as a time frame for ending (Google Hangouts) for (Google Workspace) customers at least.
All clients are migrated (Google Workspace) To prepare (Chat Preferred) In some stage after the second quarter of 2021 Unless moderators decide to opt out of this change.
The switch to Chat Preferred is enforced for Google Workspace customers in late 2021 with no option for administrators to cancel the subscription.
Google notes: Google Chat completely replaces the classic Google Hangouts, and there will be no option to unsubscribe at this stage.
Google promises Workspace customers that it will provide at least four weeks of notice via the Google Workspace Updates blog before the start of each phase.
These two stages represent the last two of the five stages in the transition schedule to (Google Chat).
And all the remaining classic Google Hangouts customers are transferred to Chat Preferred in late 2021, with the classic Google Hangouts completely replaced by the Google Chat app.