Long-promised changes are coming for Google's top communications services.
"Starting in the first half of 2021, everyone can begin upgrading from Hangouts to Chat," Google said in the post. "To ensure a smooth transition, we will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history." The company adds that it'll share more guidance when the transition begins, with exact timing still to be determined.
As part of the move, Google said it plans to end Fi support in Hangouts early next year, with the same SMS access relocated to the Messages app.
"Fi users will be able to make voice calls and check voicemail from Messages for web, manage conversations from Messages across devices (even when their phone is off) and migrate their existing Hangouts conversations," Google said. "Beginning this month, we'll provide guidance about these changes and direct Hangouts Fi users to Messages or the default SMS app on their phone."
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Google said that a similar transition to the Voice app is in store for Google Voice users, adding that it won't be long before you aren't able to make phone calls from the Hangouts app at all.
"New telecommunications regulations are being introduced in the EU and US beginning in 2021," Google said. "To comply with these new regulations, we need to remove the call phones feature in Hangouts. In October, we'll start showing affected users an in-product notification with guidance on how to receive refunds on their remaining calling credits, and early next year, we'll remove the feature entirely."
The changes come during a time in which videoconferencing services are booming due to continued efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In April, Google told CNET that its Meet videoconferencing software was adding 2 million users a day after logging 2 billion minutes of video calls during March. Key competitor Zoom saw its own surge of users at the onset of the pandemic, with a jump of more than 100 million users between March and April.