Google is 'replacing' Gchat today -- here's what that means

Google is requiring users of its Google Talk messaging service in Gmail to switch to Hangouts after Monday.

It’s the end of an era that started in 2005, and the culmination of a transition from Google Talk to Hangouts that started back in 2013.

Google Talk was started as a instant messaging platform built into Gmail, and is often called “Gchat” by its fans. But Hangouts is more modern, and it has many more features.

But what does this mean for office workers who use Google Talk to chat with coworkers, family, and friends all day long?

Luckily, not much. Hangouts is a pretty solid replacement for Google Talk. Your chat contacts will transfer over, and you’ll still be able to chat with your contacts in Gmail — it will just look a little different and have a few new features, like GIF support.

Here’s a Google Talk chat window:

And here’s what Hangouts in Gmail looks like:

Heavy users might notice that the chat sidebar built into Gmail looks different. The Google Talk Android app will also be phased out, and Android users should download Hangouts instead.

Here’s how Google described the transition in a blog post:

Fully transitioning Google Talk to Hangouts: Google Talk launched in 2005 as a simple chat experience between Gmail users. In 2013, we began replacing Google Talk with Hangouts, while still giving users the option to continue using Google Talk. Hangouts offers advanced improvements over Google Talk such as group video calling and integration with other Google products. With the introduction of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, which add further improvements in meetings and team collaboration, it is now time to say goodbye to Google Talk.

Talk users within Gmail will receive a prompt in the next few weeks, inviting them to switch to Hangouts. After June 26, users will be automatically transitioned to Hangouts, unless contractual commitments apply. For users that preferred the Google Talk look, there is a Dense Roster setting in Hangouts that provides a similar experience.

If you want to try to keep the same look as Google Talk, there’s a “dense roster” setting that you can turn on in settings.

Google also outlined the differences between the two programs in a chart. In general, the company sees Hangouts as its business-focused chat, somewhat like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Hipchat.

If the new Hangouts doesn’t work for your messaging needs, Google has several other messaging programs, including Allo, Duo, Android Messages, and Google Voice.

Ultimately, for most people, this transition won’t be a major change.

Some people are upset about this change, writing that Hangouts’ aesthetics are significantly different, and pointing out the fact that its additional features, like GIFs and inline images, take away from Google Talk’s simplicity. Change is hard, but Hangouts is ultimately not that different from Gchat.

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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