Hangouts isn’t being hung out to dry in 2020, Google says

Will Google Hangouts finally get the chop? Absolutely … but when Google plans to hang up on hangouts is anyone’s guess.

A recent report from 9to5Google claimed that Google Hangouts was set to shut down for consumers at some point in 2020, citing “a source familiar with the product’s internal roadmap.” The news wasn’t all that surprising. Google often gets ridiculed for its multitude of messaging apps, and the company recently announced that it would be turning its attention to Android Messages and integration with the new RCS “Chat” messaging standard. Not only that, but Google ceased development on Hangouts more than a year ago. But will it happen in 2020? Or 2019? Not according to Google.

The tech giant reached out to Digital Trends to dispel the confusion, claiming it had not set any specific end-of-life date for Hangouts.

“In March 2017, we announced plans to evolve classic Hangouts to focus on two experiences that help bring teams together: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Both Chat and Meet are available today for G Suite customers and will be made available for consumer users, too. We have not announced an official timeline for transitioning users from classic Hangouts to Chat and Meet. We are fully committed to supporting classic Hangouts users until everyone is successfully migrated to Chat and Meet.”

In other words, keep using Hangouts if you want to — but Google would really appreciate it if you didn’t. Other sources at the company were more forceful about the death of Hangouts. Scott Johnston, a Google product lead, called the initial 9to5Google article “shoddy reporting.”

Given that Google has been bringing new features to other messaging apps, many customers have already moved away from Google Hangouts, but there is still a loyal following who prefer to stick with the older service. Safe to say, if you have not already transitioned away from Google Hangouts, then you will want to do so at some point in 2019.

It’s important to note that not everything about Hangouts will disappear. The Hangouts brand will still live on in G Suite’s Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet services, which are targeted at businesses and aimed at those who might otherwise be interested in services like Slack. Hopefully, this signals the start of a much more streamlined approach to messaging for Google. As mentioned, it has launched quite a few messaging services over the years, and many of them have fallen flat. After Hangouts, Google launched Allo — but considering Allo only allowed users to message other Allo users, it wasn’t really embraced.

Instead, Google is now embracing the new RCS, or Rich Communication Services, “chat” standard, which allows for things like group messages, larger file transfers, read receipts, and more. Safe to say, it’s a far superior standard to the older SMS standard, and should hopefully bring messaging — even cross-platform messaging — into 2018. Of course, there are companies that have not announced that they are going to use RCS. Namely, Apple has kept quiet on the new standard, likely because of the fact that it’s already considered a messaging champion thanks to iMessage. Hopefully, however, Apple will adopt RCS for cross-platform chats, in which Apple and Android users message with each other.

Update 12/3/2018: Added denials from Google about the death of Hangouts.

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