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Goodbye, GChat! Hello, Hangouts

Google's replacing its GChat instant message service with its 4-year-old Hangouts. Most people probably won't notice.

Google's focusing on Hangouts.

If you still use an alternative instant message app to connect to Google, life's about to get harder.

Google is once again streamlining its services, and that means Google Talk (launched in 2005, and also known as Gmail Chat or GChat) is being replaced with Hangouts on June 26.

For most people, this won't mean much other than now it'll be easier to start video conferences and other nifty tricks.

But for people who use instant message apps like Adium and Trillian, the news definitely isn't good. Google's also diminishing support for an industry standard chat system known as XMPP, which most instant message programs rely on. Google says people will be able to continue one-on-one chats, but the message is pretty clear it's time to start relying on Hangouts through Gmail and the Hangouts site.

A Trillian spokesman equally said in a statement that the writing appears to be on the wall for interoperability with alternative instant messenger apps."This is unfortunate: Google was unique as the operators of a federated and open instant messaging network boasting significant market share, and we are always disappointed to see the industry move in the direction of walled gardens," he said.

In case you're worried because Google suddenly has fewer messaging options, remember there's still the Allo secure messenger and Google Voice.

Legacy apps like Google Talk for Android, first released in 2013, will also stop functioning.

Some other changes include upgrades to the Android Messages app so that it handles text messages for Google-powered mobile phones, instead of the Hangouts app. You can read all about it on Google's website.

First published March 24, 12:15 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:43 p.m.: Adds comments from Trillian and Google.