On June 26, Google will force users of its Google Talk messaging service in Gmail to switch to Hangouts, another company messaging service.
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.
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 in Gmail — it will just look a little different.
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.
Ultimately, for most people, this transition won’t be a major change.
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.
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.
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