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Google makes big, confusing change to Chat

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 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Google has made yet more signifcant, confusing changes to its array of chat apps.

The company will be shutting down Google Hangouts – once its primary chat app – and instead moving people to the app it calls Google Chat.

Google Chat is notably different from GChat, which was also called Google Talk, and which itself was killed off earlier this month.

The latest changes are an attempt to clear up Google’s confusing array of chat apps, as well as to make it possible to use new features such as collaborative work on Google Sheets.

But Google’s attempts to clear up those apps often lead to yet more apps. The company has launched, changed and discontinued a vast number of chat apps over the years, usually introducing them as a new way of unifying conversations.

Google Hangouts was originally launched with Google+, and then became its own app in 2013. Google has supported it since then, but now says it will be moving people off the app and onto Google Chat.

Google Chat became available for everyone in October 2020. Initially, Google said people could keep using Hangouts or Chat as they wished, but it has been the latter that has been given new features and is integrated inside Gmail.

Chat has the option to integrate within Google Docs, and to use the Spaces tool that allows people to share information more easily. It also has richer conversation features, such as better emoji, the option to mention people, send gifs, and to use formatting on conversations.

Google Hangouts users will be automatically migrated onto Chat starting from today. They will see a notification that will ask them move over, and people using it inside Gmail will be switched over too.

Conversations should be moved across seamlessly, Google said, though it did tell people to also keep a copy of their Hangouts data before the service shuts down in November. That can be done with the Google Takeout tool, which allows users to download data from all of Google’s different services.

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