Google has announced new updates and changes for Chats and Hangouts. As part of the change, Google will officially transition users from Google Hangouts to Google Chat next year. From next year, Chat will become available as a free service both in the integrated experience in Gmail and the Chat standalone app, as per Google’s official blog. This includes familiar Hangouts features like direct and group messaging. It will also have additions like send to inbox, faster search, emoji reactions, and suggested replies.

By using Chat, users can easily plan with others on goals and similar interests, share and collaborate on files, and assign tasks to help keep everyone on the same page. Chat has the same phishing protections available in Gmail, and thus if a link is sent to a user via Chat, it will be checked against real-time data from Safe Browsing and flagged if it’s found to be malicious.

To ensure a smooth transition from Hangouts to Chat, Google will help automatically migrate Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history. More specific guidance on what steps you can take will be shared when Google begins the transition process.

As part of the transition, Google is removing the call phone feature from Hangouts. Instead, they will be able to migrate existing Hangouts conversations to Google’s Message app and manage Fi texts and calls in the Message app for the web. They have also stated that beginning this month, they will direct Hangouts Voice users to the Voice app for text messaging. Going forward, they will remove Voice support in Hangouts.

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