Google Hangouts: Shutting Down in November

Google’s now migrating free, personal Hangouts users to Chat after sunsetting Google Hangouts for Workspace users in February. As for users who use Hangouts in Gmail on the web, Google says it won’t start prompting users to switch to Chat until July.

In a statement posted to its blog, Google says people who still use the Hangouts mobile app will notice a prompt to move to Chat.

Instead, hangouts will remain usable on its desktop site until November, and Google states it will warn users “at least one month” in advance before it begins pointing the Hangouts site to Chat.

Confusingly, Google Chat isn’t the same thing as GChat, which Google discontinued for good earlier this month. Instead, the company first hinted at its plans to transition users from Hangouts to Chat in 2018 and made the feature free for all users in 2020.

If you’re still using Hangouts, Google should automatically transfer your existing conversations to Chat. The company also allows you to use its Takeout service to download a copy of your Hangouts data before it’s officially discontinued come November.

To entice users to switch to Chat, Google says it’s rolling out a few new features, including the ability to make direct calls, create in-line threads in Space, and share and view multiple images.

Google Chat is a communication service designed by Google. Initially created for teams and business environments, it has since been made available for general consumers. It provides direct messages, group conversations, and spaces, allowing users to create and assign tasks and share files in a central place besides chatting. It can be accessed through its website and app or the Gmail website and app.

It was first established on March 9, 2017, as Hangouts Chat is one of the two apps comprising the replacement for Google Hangouts, the other being Google Meet. It was renamed Google Chat on April 9, 2020. It was initially only open for Google Workspace customers. Still, in February 2021, Google started rolling out Google Chat in “early access” to everyday consumer accounts until it became fully functional in April 2021. In addition, Google has plans to deprecate Google Hangouts and replace it with Google Chat in early 2022.

Google Chat was first established as Hangouts Chat on March 9, 2017, for Google Workspace customers only as a replacement for Google Hangouts. All G Suite packages had comparable features except for the absence of Vault data retention in the Basic package.

Google rebranded Hangouts Chat to Google Chat on April 9, 2020. Following this rebranding and a relative change for Hangouts Meet, the Hangouts brand will be removed from Google Workspace.

Use retention rules to control while your organization’s Google Workspace data can be deleted. Google Workspace data stays in accounts by default until a user or admin trashes it. With retention rules, you can:

Keep data as lengthy as you need it. If your organization must preserve data for a particular time, you can configure Vault to retain it. For example, data is kept even when users delete messages and files and empty their trash.

Remove data while you no longer need it. For example, suppose your organization is required to delete sensitive data after a specific time. In that case, you can configure Vault to make services release it from user accounts and purge it from all Google systems.

Warning: An improperly configured retention rule can let Google services immediately and irreversibly purge data. Use caution when you construct or change retention rules. We recommend you test new regulations on a small group of users before applying them to your entire organization.

When retention coverage terminates and no holds apply, Vault allows services to cleanse affected data directly. The moment it takes to purge expired data changes depending on the assistance. 

Types of Retention Rules

Default retention rules: Set a default retention rule when you must keep all data for service for all licensed accounts in your community for a fixed time. Default rules apply to details only when a custom law or hold doesn’t apply. Therefore, you can’t apply default retention rules to specific accounts or periods, and you can only have one default retention rule per service.

Custom retention rules: Fix custom retention rules to support specific data for a set time. You can select the data with conditions and terms depending on the service:

  • Gmail and Groups—Fix by organizational unit, date ranges, and precise search terms.
  • Drive, Meet, and Sites—Set by organizational unit and define expiration based on last modified dates (to address staleness), created dates (to address compliance requirements), or trashed dates.
  • Chat and classic Hangouts–Set by administrative unit or for all Chat spaces in the community.
  • Google Voice for Google Workspace–Set by organizational unit and data type.

You can set as many custom rules as your organization needs. Data is retained according to the law with the latest expiration. For Drive, if a Drive item in the trash is subject to multiple retention rules, a moved-to-trash rule supersedes all other retention rules.

Google first announced its plan to begin retiring Google Hangouts in October 2019. Then, in October 2020, Google announced that it would open Google Chat to consumers in 2021. Google also revealed that Hangouts conversations, contacts, and history would be migrated to Google Chat.

Google Chat began to roll out to consumer accounts in “early access” in February 2021. Still, at the time, Google stated that Hangouts would remain a consumer-level product for people using standard Google accounts. However, by April 2021, Google Chat became fully available as an “early access” service for users who choose to use it instead of Hangouts.

In August 2021, Google started automatically signing out Google Hangouts users on iOS and Android and notifying them to switch to Google Chat.

Google plans to deprecate Google Hangouts and replace it with Google Chat in early 2022. In addition, in February 2022, Google announced plans to begin the final migration of all Google Workspace customers from Google Hangouts to Google Chat, which is scheduled to be finalized in May 2022.

Google Chat is divided into two sections, Chat, and spaces. The Chat section contains direct conversations with other people and group conversations. In addition, to being able to access Google Chat from its website and app, Google Chat can also be accessed through its integration with the Gmail website and app.

In May 2022, Google announced that Chat would display banners warning users against potential phishing and malware attacks from personal accounts. This development for Google Chat was the latest attempt to prevent phishing and security breaches for users.