Google has confirmed it will begin to migrate users from its legacy text-based communications platform Hangouts to its new Google Chat service. 

From December 3 onwards, group conversations originally set up in Hangouts will begin to appear on the Google Chat platform, which is currently available to enterprise customers only.

All existing conversations and saved chat history will be transferred over in full, which Google claims will ensure a “smooth transition”.

According to a company blog post, the service will soon allow new group members to access conversation history in full, including messages exchanged before they were added. Pioneered by Slack, this system is designed to allow new team members to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

The migration of group conversations from Hangouts to Google Chat and tweaks to the new service will roll out incrementally over the course of the next few weeks.

Google Chat upgrade

The transition from Hangouts to Google Chat was first announced back in April, soon after the wholesale shift to remote working. In tandem, Google revealed it would rebrand its video conferencing service (then Hangouts Meet) to Google Meet.

The arrival of Google Chat also brings with it several upgrades, including an improved interface, integrated video conferencing and the ability to search conversation logs for specific information.

“Chat includes familiar Hangouts features like direct and group messaging, with helpful additions like send to inbox, emoji reactions and suggested replies,” Google explained.

“In addition, Chat features the same strong phishing protections we built in Gmail, so if a link is sent to you via Chat, it will be flagged if it’s found to be malicious.”

Although the rise of Google Chat will erase Hangouts from enterprise packages, the service will still live on temporarily as part of the company’s consumer-facing chat offering.

As of next year, however, Chat will become available as a free service for all users – both integrated into Gmail and in the form of a new standalone app.

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