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G Suite Users moving to Hangouts Chat and Meet in October

Update August 2019: Final migration of G Suite customers from classic Hangouts to Hangouts Chat has been postponed until after June 2020.

Update October 15, 2020: Migration of personal accounts from Hangouts to Chat will be in the first half of 2021. Some Hangouts features (Google Voice & Google Fi SMS, phone calling, group video calls) are going away before then.

Google has announced that G Suite Users will be moved from classic Hangouts to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet in October. If you have a consumer Google account then this will NOT affect you.
The above dates are specific to G Suite customers and their end users who use classic Hangouts. We will continue to support consumer use of classic Hangouts, and expect to transition consumers to free Chat and Meet following the transition of G Suite customers. A more specific timeline will be communicated at a later date.
Hangouts Meet video calling is ready to go. It's already possible to have group video calls with people outside your organization and has many improved features. Compare Hangouts Meet to classic Hangouts video calling to see the differences.

Hangouts Chat on the other hand is still a work in progress. Google has promised a number of significant new features will be added before the transition in October to make that process less painful.

Here is what will be happening with Hangouts Chat over the next 9 months:

April 16, 2019: for G Suite domains using classic Hangouts, Hangouts Chat will automatically be enabled for the web and mobile devices. Users can continue to use classic Hangouts.

Between April and September: Google will be adding new features to Hangouts Chat, including:
  • Integration with Gmail
  • Chatting with external users
  • An improved video calling experience
  • Making calls with Google Voice
October 2019: Classic Hangouts will be retired for G Suite and users will be transitioned to Hangouts Chat.

If you are a G Suite administrator, be sure to read the official announcement on the G Suite Updates blog. That has more details about changes to G Suite admin settings for Hangouts and Google Vault.

One-to-one conversations can be accessed from both Classic and Chat

Direct messages can be accessed in both classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat. Currently that's only available for one-to-one conversations between users on the same domain. In April 2019, users of classic Hangouts can direct message any Hangouts Chat user, including external users.

Group conversations are not accessible from both classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat. Any group conversations in classic Hangouts will have to be re-created in Hangouts Chat.