RIP to Google's best messaging app —
Hangouts was the primary Google messaging app from 2013–2016.
It sounds like Google is finally getting ready to move on from Google Hangouts, the company's most successful messaging app to date. A new blog post from the company is finally giving consumer Google Hangouts a shutdown date: November 2022. Today is also the day when existing Google Hangouts users will start getting nagged to switch to Google's hot, new messaging app, Google Chat.
The shutdown of Hangouts has been a long time coming. The service launched in 2013 as an in-place upgrade to Google Talk. As Android's default messaging service, Hangouts amassed 5 billion downloads, and at one point, it even handled Android SMS duties, just like Apple's iMessage. The service fell out of favor with Google's legendarily fickle messaging strategy in 2016 with the launch of Google Allo. Google announced in 2018 that Hangouts would eventually be shut down. After several delays, Workspace customers (the paid business version of Google apps) finally had Hangouts removed in March 2022, but regular consumers can still switch between Google Chat and Hangouts.
Starting today, most Google Hangouts clients will start pushing users to Google Chat. While most follow-ups to Google Hangouts have been severely lacking in comparable features, Google Chat is a decent upgrade to Google Hangouts, so there are Google Chat options for all the Hangouts clients you may have been using. On desktop, instead of hangouts.google.com or the Hangouts Chrome extension, there's https://chat.google.com/, which is also an installable progressive web app. Instead of the iOS and Android versions of Hangouts, you'll be pushed to the Google Chat apps, which both have better interfaces. As usual, there's a client built into Gmail.com, and there's even a client built into the Gmail app, which can lead to the awkward situation of your Chat messages arriving in two apps.
Google says that any of your Hangouts conversations—which can date back to 2005 under Google Talk—should be moved over to Google Chat by now. This data can also be downloaded via Google Takeout.
Google's video apps are also in the middle of a big transition, with a merger of Google Meet and Google Duo (with Google Meet being the surviving brand) in the works.