Hangouts has been on the way out for four (!) years by now, but the service is still kicking. And in that process, Hangouts managed to reach an impressive milestone: It has been installed five billion times on the Play Store. That brings it right on par with a few pre-installed Google apps, but also with the two competing messaging products from Facebook.
It's been a while since Google announced that it will split Hangout into two separate services — Chat and Meet. For workspace accounts, the transition to Chat began last year, but personal account holders were only given a blurred ETA of "first half of 2021." For a few lucky accounts, the migration started early, in August of 2020, and continued throughout the year and early 2021 (we've received dozens of tips since the original one). Now, things seem to be more official as Google is acknowledging the transition and calling this a "preview" of Google Chat.
Hangouts has been pronounced dead uncountable times, but Google's ill-fated attempt at an instant messaging service is kicking and fighting its demise. Now Google has taken another step to replace its old messenger with Meet and Chat, as group video calls have become unavailable on Android and the web following the latest app update.
Ever since Google announced back in 2017 that Hangouts would be split into the Chat and Meet apps, consumers have been curious about when to expect major changes. We started seeing the first signs of the transition earlier this year, and now Google is letting Hangouts holdovers know what to expect going forward — including the plans for Google Fi and Google Voice customers.
Google Hangouts might not be as popular as it once was, but there are still plenty of people hanging on to it. A good number of Hangouts users across the globe received some strange notifications yesterday, which may be linked to a vulnerability in Google's Firebase platform.
With millions of children currently studying from home, and most likely using cheap computers like Chromebooks, glaring omissions in Chrome OS have come under the spotlight. For example, those who were using Family Link to manage their kids' Google accounts and Chromebooks noticed that they can't install any extensions on them. Maybe that was designed as a security measure, but it hindered the use of video conferencing tools like Zoom and Hangouts. Now that's changing.
We've known for a long time that Google Hangouts was destined to shut down, but most of us couldn't have predicted individual features would be slowly picked from its not-quite-dead body. That seems to be the case with the location sharing function formerly found in Hangouts. As of v32, the convenient messaging feature has been quietly removed.
We know Hangouts isn't long for this world. Support for the service is winding down and being replaced by Meet and Chat, but the transition is slow and has only been initiated for G Suite users so far. Those with personal Gmail accounts can't migrate and many are still attached to Hangouts. Whether you're in that boat or you have some data in the app that you want to save, you probably hit a major issue when trying to download videos: you can't do it from the app.