Google announced that it will convert users from Google Hangouts to Google Chat in the first half of next year and rename it to Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite). Google Workspace provides Gmail, calendar, Drive, documents, forms, slides, meetings and instant chat in an integrated unified space. So far, Google Chat is only available for premium G Suite customers. However, it will become a free service in Gmail and as a standalone application (similar to Google Hangouts).

The new Google Workspace is also only available to corporate customers. The company stated in its blog that it will promote it to others next year. Google Chat will retain some Hangouts features, such as direct and group messaging, and give up some other features. Google said that the new mail application will also have the same phishing mechanism as Gmail. This means that links and attachments sent via Google Chat will automatically run real-time data from Google Safe Browsing and be marked as malicious.

Google also guarantees that users’ Hangouts data (including conversation history and contacts) will be automatically migrated to the new version of Google Chat after it goes live at some point in the first half of 2021. The company has not yet provided an exact transition date, nor has it given an exact transition date. It specifies the jump operations that users must perform.

Starting in November, group video chats will also start using “conferences.” Starting early next year, users will not be able to call phone numbers through Hangouts. Some other details are specific to Google Fi and Google Voice users. For voice users, the company said it will start directing text messages and calls from Hangouts to the voice application this month, and will completely remove voice support from Hangouts next year. Starting early next year, Google Fi users will not be able to manage text messages and calls in Hangouts.

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However, The Verge reports that this transition will be gradual, and that both Hangouts and Chat will be available for some time, citing other details shared by Google with the publication.

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