Last August, Google delayed the classic Hangouts transition for G Suite customers into this year. Starting today, admins can migrate their users to Google Chat in earnest and get access to Gmail integration.
For the past year, Google has been testing the transition within an Accelerated Transition Program. Anyone can now use Chat in Gmail if their G Suite admins select the “Chat preferred” preference.
The Chat preferred setting allows you to migrate all of your users at once for the most effective and seamless transition. If some people use classic Hangouts and others use Chat, it can lead to missed messages and become burdensome for admins. And if you have a remote or distributed workforce, unifying your users onto a single chat network can help everyone communicate successfully.
As the setting implies, Google Chat will “become the default chat application for your organization.” This will disable the classic Hangouts applications for Android and iOS, though hangouts.google.com will remain available. Users are advised to use the Chat mobile apps and chat.google.com, which is now a PWA. Google will also offer a classic Hangouts bot to notify users of unread group messages.
Meanwhile, classic Hangouts in the bottom-left corner of Gmail on the web will also be replaced. Google Chat 1:1 and group direct messages will appear instead, along with full-screen rooms. Other features include bot integrations, forward to inbox, emoji reactions, and message edit/delete.
This “Chat preferred” is rolling out now to Admin console and available for all G Suite users. For Google, this marks Phase 3 of the classic Hangouts deprecation timeline. The final step — where classic Hangouts is disabled entirely — will see all enterprise users “upgraded” in “late 2020.”