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Google makes Google Chat the default for more people

For people in organizations that use Google Workspace, the migration from Hangouts to Google Chat begins Aug. 16—unless an administrator chooses to delay.

Google will begin to migrate organizations that use Chat in Google Workspace from “Chat and classic Hangouts” to “Chat preferred” starting Aug. 16, 2021. 

Google is nearing the end of the migration from classic Hangouts to Google Chat for people who use Google Workspace. Starting Aug. 16, organizations with the Google Chat service setting of “Chat and classic Hangouts” will be updated to “Chat preferred.” This adjustment will happen automatically, with no action needed by a Google Workspace administrator. (If you’re a Workspace administrator, you may check and change your current settings at the Admin console | Apps | Google Workspace | Google Chat and Classic Hangouts | Service status.)

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The impact of this migration will be noticeable to people who have continued to use Hangouts and not yet moved to Google Chat. If you’re an administrator, you’ll want to make sure people in your organization are informed of the change. The following four points may be helpful to share with people in your organization.

1. Google Chat is available in Gmail

Once the change occurs, Google Chat becomes available in Gmail, both on the web as well as in the Gmail Android and iOS apps. 

Within Gmail in a browser, Chat becomes one of the communication options available along the left-side navigation. If it doesn’t display, select the sprocket | See All Settings | Chat and Meet, then make sure the Google Chat option is selected. 

In the Gmail app on Android or iOS, the Chat icon (a stylized discussion box) should automatically appear to the right of the Gmail envelope icon.

2. Google Chat also offers web and mobile apps

People also may access Chat in a dedicated browser tab at https://chat.google.com, apart from Gmail. This can be useful when you want to focus on a chat conversation without the potential distraction of email messages.

Similarly, people might choose to install the Google Chat mobile app for either Android or iOS. For example, in cases where people use an email client other than Gmail (e.g., such as Apple Mail), installing the Google Chat app ensures conversations can continue almost anywhere.

3. For conferencing and calling, explore related apps 

Some functions previously available in Hangouts have now moved to other apps. Google Meet (on the web, on Android and iOS) handles video conferencing and collaboration. As with Google Chat in Gmail, Meet also displays in the left-side Gmail navigation. Separately, Google Voice (on the web, on Android and iOS) handles phone calling capabilities. And, in good news for people who relied on Chat calling, Google indicates on a support page that “Direct calling is expected to roll out to Chat in Q3 2021.”

4. Hangouts will still be available on the web

Google will still provide access to Hangouts on the web at https://hangouts.google.com, at least for a period of time. You may, however, want to uninstall the Hangouts mobile app or remove it from your bookmarked favorites, unless you also use Hangouts with a personal Google account.

Other considerations for Workspace Administrators

Google emailed administrators and posted a Workspace blog update prior to the change and provided an option for Workspace administrators to opt out of the change. However, since Google has announced that the transition from Hangouts to Chat will occur by the end of 2021 for organizations that use Workspace, in most cases administrators should not seek to delay the change.

In my opinion, many administrators might give serious consideration to changing the setting to “Chat only” (Figure A), rather than the intermediate step of “Chat and classic Hangouts.” However, once an administrator changes the setting to “Chat only,” people in the organization will no longer have access to Hangouts. Review the listed limitations of Google Chat before you make this switch. You’ll also want to make sure people in your organization know the first three points above. This option skips the transitional step provided by the “Chat preferred” option and moves your organization directly from Hangouts to Chat.

Figure A

Screenshot of Google Chat and classic Hangouts service settings. Shows

A Google Workspace administrator might also consider moving from “Chat preferred” to “Chat only” once access to classic Hangouts is no longer needed.

If you use Google Workspace, have you already moved from Hangouts to Google Chat and other apps? If you’re a Workspace administrator, what steps did you take to help people in your organization adopt Google Chat? If you have chosen to switch to “Chat only” already, how smoothly did that change proceed? Let me know what your experience has been, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).  

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