Earlier at this time, Google introduced in a corporate blog post that the die-hards at the moment left on the Hangouts messaging platform are formally getting the boot. Beginning in early 2021, the corporate will begin making strikes to “mechanically migrate” everybody’s Hangouts chat historical past and contacts to the Google Workspace-ready different, Google Chat.
Whereas the precise timing on the switchover continues to be “to be decided,” what’s clear is that someday within the first half of subsequent 12 months, a few of the core elements of Hangouts are simply going to essentially be killed off. Google Fi, the corporate’s alternative to traditional wireless carriers, will now not help Hangouts calls or texts. As an alternative, Google suggests Fi customers’ wants may be met with the corporate’s reply to Apple’s iMessage, helpfully known as Google Messages. Then there are Google Voice customers, who’ve been in a position to make use of Hangouts for calling. That’s gotten a bit trickier.
“New telecommunications laws are being launched within the EU and U.S. starting in 2021,” Google explains within the weblog, including that, by early subsequent 12 months, the calling function will should be expunged totally. These customers, the corporate goes on to say, might be slowly shepherded to Google’s Voice platform someday earlier than that occurs.
Whereas the corporate hasn’t responded to our request for touch upon which laws they’re referring to right here, there’s a very good probability that is referring to a few of the new protocols the FCC’s placing into place for telcos this coming summer time. The SHAKEN/STIRRED protocol, because it’s known as, is supposed to crack down on the present scourge of robocalls by permitting telecoms to ensure a cellphone’s caller ID matches up with their precise registered cellphone quantity—one thing that may very well be onerous to do if that decision is routed by Google’s methods.
This information isn’t essentially sudden. Again in early 2019, Google first severed ties between the chat app and its enterprise clients—of us that then used Hangouts through GSuite, which might later become Google Workspace. The plan was that these clients could be pushed into Google’s Slack-like messaging app, Meet . On the time, Google told these clients that whereas they have been getting the boot first, the non-paying viewers on the Hangouts app wouldn’t have for much longer left on the app themselves, and would quickly be nudged right into a free-to-download model of Meet, or a free-to-download model of Chat.
As a result of Google has launched a grand whole of 10—rely ‘em, 10—messaging apps through the years, I’m certain this information comes as a aid for some readers. But it surely’s additionally sort of a ache for others. Chat, for instance, was clearly designed with energy customers in thoughts, relatively than informal conversations, based on the corporate weblog put up:
With Chat, you possibly can extra simply plan with others on objectives and comparable pursuits, share and collaborate on information, and assign duties to assist hold everybody on the identical web page.
From the way in which that sounds, Chat appears to be sort of an extension of Meet: one other office chat platform for office chats, giant and small. In different phrases, it sounds just like the shift to extra workplace-friendly platforms isn’t solely a method to slim down its unwieldy collection of messaging apps, however to come back after office mainstays like Slack.
However then there are these of us who usually used Hangouts to, nicely… hang around. In my case, Hangouts was my chatting app of selection throughout the first few months of work-from-home hell, when the one method to socialize with anybody was to socialize over apps. At the time, Hangouts calls have been seemingly unattainable to hijack, which stood in stark distinction to the scourge of Zoom bombings that befell over the summer time (and proceed at this time). Positive, Hangouts wasn’t excellent—it’s a Google product in any case—but it surely gave me a much-wanted lifeline to the individuals I missed, once I wanted them most, and all at no cost.
Google’s pivot to extra buttoned-up messaging options may fulfill the fits that griped about its too-casual appear and feel, but it surely additionally means Google’s giving up on a platform that attempted some fairly uncommon stuff in its 7-year historical past. What different chatting app would allow you to run adorable ponies throughout the underside of your chat, or a tiny mob with tiny pitchforks? Would Slack ever pay homage to the most effective characters on Futurama?
Hangouts’ endurance got here from the truth that it was free, straightforward to make use of, and fairly seamlessly built-in throughout all of Google’s properties. It was by no means constructed to be the company messaging app of the long run, and people suit-friendly apps have been by no means constructed to incorporate tiny, anthropomorphic horses operating throughout the underside of your texts. With Hangouts’ sluggish march to the Google Graveyard comes the demise of the one Google messaging platform that wasn’t afraid to snort at itself. RIP.
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