Last year, Google laid out plans to retire classic Hangouts for all users. At the time, the search giant said free Hangouts users would be moved to a free version of Google Chat in the first half of 2021. As promised, Google has now started signing out free accounts from Hangouts, marking yet another step towards the service’s slow and inevitable death.
9to5Google reports that free Hangouts users on Android and iOS have started seeing a prompt inside the app telling them to switch to Google Chat. Google has slowly been killing various features of Hangouts over the past months. But this latest step is the biggest one since Google announced its plan to shutter the service last year.
A blue banner appears at the top in the Hangouts app that reads, “Hangouts is being replaced by Google Chat”. It also shows a “Switch to Chat in Gmail” button. When you click on it, it signs you out of Hangouts and takes you to the unified Chat experience in Gmail. Google says all your previous Hangouts conversations from last year (June 2020) will appear in Google Chat, while older chat history will be made “available later.”
Your conversations from the last year are already in Chat, and older conversations will be available later.
Once you sign out, you’ll not receive any new notifications from the Hangouts app. However, 9to5Google notes that Google isn’t completely shutting down the service just yet as you can continue to use the mobile app by re-adding your Google account.
A similar notice is shown when trying to access the web version of Hangouts. When you click on the “Open Chat” button, you’re taken to the standalone web experience of Google Chat.
As for enterprise accounts, a mandatory upgrade is coming in late 2021 when Google will “fully replace classic Hangouts with Chat.”