Google Sunsets Video Service Despite Usage Boom Amid Pandemic
'Hangout' users will be prompted to move to Google Chat.
It looks like "joining a Hangout" with your friends will now become a phrase that's only meant to apply to in-person endeavors.
Google Chat is not to be confused (or is it?) with the company's messaging service GChat (originally dubbed Google Talk), which Google discontinued earlier this month.
This week's announcement is the second iteration of Hangouts to go, as Google discontinued Hangouts for Workspaces this past February. The newly announced discontinuation will only affect people who use Hangouts for personal reasons outside of their corporate accounts.
"Google Chat offers a modern and integrated experience in Google Workspace," Google Chat Product Manager, Ravi Kanneganti, wrote in a company statement. "We have big ambitions for the future of Chat, and over the coming months you'll see even more features like direct calling, in-line threading in Spaces and the ability to share and view multiple images. As we take this final step to bring remaining Hangouts users to Chat, we hope users will appreciate our continued investment in making Chat a powerful place to create and collaborate."
Google maintains that Chat will offer users a more comprehensive and interactive experience than the Hangouts interface was able to provide, such as text editing options, @ mentions to tag other users, and even the use of extensive emojis and GIFs.
Those using Hangouts on Google's mobile app will be prompted to switch over to Chat as early as today, while those using the service on a web browser or desktop won't be prompted to make to switch until next month. The service is expected to run through November before it's gone for good and all users are auto-directed to Chat.
For Hangout loyalists who are worried about their conversation logs and data once they're forced to make the switch over, Google is allowing users to use Google Takeout (its data migration service) to download data for personal records.
Google's video services saw a major uptick in users — both for corporate and personal reasons — amid the pandemic as lockdown protocols and virtual work became commonplace for many.
Google Meet, the company's primary video service for corporate users, saw over 100 million daily meeting participants at its peak which was an increase of about 30x user growth.
The plan for the Google Chat upgrade has been in place since at least October 2020.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, was down just over 7% as of Tuesday afternoon.
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