The very confusing integration of Google Chat and classic Hangouts, has begun.
Google announced last year, that it was going to be getting rid of classic Hangouts by the end of the year (2020), and it is now starting that process.
The company announced today that starting on May 26, those G Suite customers that are using Google Chat, will be able to communicate with those that are not on their domain, and use classic Hangouts. The reason for this is because Google Chat is not yet available to consumers. Only to enterprise customers that have a G Suite account. Unlike Google Meet, which is available for everyone already.
Google Chat will be open for everyone later this year
Google is still planning to open Chat for everyone – including consumers with a gmail email address – this year. Of course, Google has to do that before it completely kills off Hangouts this year, otherwise a big group of its users will look elsewhere for a chat service. And that likely means no Google chat service fro them. So that is a pretty big deal for Google.
While Google Meet is already available for everyone, that came a lot sooner than expected. And it is because of the current pandemic. And millions more people relying on video chatting to get work and school done, Google needed to make Meet available for more people to use. So that is likely where Google's focus has been in recent weeks.
As Google explained today, "you'll be able to start conversations in Google Chat (previously known as "Hangouts Chat") with people outside of your domain. You'll be able to do this by either sending a direct message or adding them to rooms." Google also explained that conversations with external users in classic Hangouts will now appear in Chat as new messages are sent. So users can communicate on both platforms from one app.
Unfortunately, those that are still using classic Hangouts and are not G-Suite users, will need to keep using the old Hangouts app.
The future is Google Chat
Google Chat, which used to be called Hangouts Chat and was an enterprise version of Hangouts, is going to be the future now. Google is looking to eliminate some of its very many chat services. But it's likely going to get worse before it gets better unfortunately.
With Google Chat, you're going to be able to talk to everyone like you did in Hangouts. Which makes the killing of Hangouts even more odd.