Google Is Signing Out Free Hangouts Users on Mobile, Gets Closer to Finally Killing the Thing

Google Is Signing Out Free Hangouts Users on Mobile, Gets Closer to Finally Killing the Thing
Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP, Getty Images

It’s been nearly an entire year since we started talking about how Google Hangouts was officially set to disappear. Since then, it seems like we’ve been repeating the same thing every few months, only for Hangouts to stubbornly persist living. If apps could talk, Hangouts would probably declare, “what is dead may never die.” 

However, Google on Friday took one more slow step toward shutting off the lights at Hangouts for good. Spotted by 9to5Google, iOS and Android users with free personal accounts have begun seeing a banner that states that “Hangouts is being replaced by Google Chat.” (Google Chat is Google’s version of Slack, while Google Meet is its version of Zoom). Users also saw a “Learn more” button that takes them to a support article explaining the switch from Hangouts to Chat as well as a button to “Switch to Chat in Gmail.”

The outlet explains that clicking on the switch button will sign you out of the Hangouts mobile app, which means that you will no longer receive notifications from Hangouts or send messages with the app. Google also reminds users that their Hangouts conversations from the last year are already available in Chat, adding that older conversations will be available later on.

Mobile devices weren’t the only ones affected by this change. Google’s Hangouts website similarly began featuring a message saying, “It’s time to switch to Google Chat.” Users are then redirected to the Chat website.

Sounds like a solid step towards biting the dust, right? I thought so too but then was reminded that Hangouts never dies. According to 9to5Google, mobile users who aren’t ready to say goodbye to Hangouts — which seems odd considering how many times its demise has been mentioned in the media — can still use the app after Google signs them out. All they need to do is open the Hangouts app and add their account once more.

There is no official end date for Hangouts yet. The company says a “mandatory upgrade” for enterprise accounts will take place in late 2021, which is coming up soon, but no cutoff has been announced for users with free personal accounts.

Now, I don’t have anything against Hangouts. I’m just at the point where every time I see something related to it, I think: “Wait, that’s still around?” In fact, when Google really does pull the plug, I might ask someone to pinch me.