From next year, you can officially migrate from Hangouts to Chat. Till now, to be a part of the Chat service, you had to subscribe to the Google Workspace (a rebranding of G Suite).
Now, that is not necessary. As a part and parcel of the change, the service is free and it will be available inside Gmail and also as a separate app. Also, some of the features of Hangouts will be eradicated ahead of its removal.
The upgrade from Hangouts to Chat is unsurprising
If you think about it, the transition is not surprising. The company has announced in December 2018, that it plans to shift the Hangouts users to Chat and Meet.
To get used to this switch, both the applications will be available for a certain period of time. So the change will happen in a slow-paced way. Sooner or later, all the free users and the Workspace users will soon be moved over to Chat. After everything is done, Hangouts will be completely replaced by Chat.
This change from Hangouts to Chat will start sometime in mid 2021. Then, Google will give you the facility to transfer all your chat history and contacts to Chat from Hangouts. We still do not know the exact procedure for this change. But no worries. Google has assured us it will provide a guide for that in the near future.
Why should you upgrade from Hangouts to Chat?
A very nice question, right? Similar to Hangouts, Chat also lets you have private and group conversations. But here in Chat, planning and collaboration with others is very simple and easy.
Apart from forcing you to upgrade to Chat, Google has also stated that some of the features of Hangouts will completely be removed. Are you a Google Fi user? If yes, this might come as a slightly disappointing news for you. Google will stop you from managing calls and texts from Hangouts later sometime next year. Nevertheless, there is an alternate solution for this. You can shift your texts and contacts from Hangouts to Google’s Messages App. From there you can manage Fi texts and phone calls in the next few weeks. However, if you still want to use Google’s custom Messages feature for Google Fi, then they might have to disable RCS.
Early next year, Google Voice support shall be removed from Hangouts. Instead you shall have to use the Voice app for your Google Voice phone calls and texts.