October 6, 2022
Google’s rebrand from G Suite to Google Workspace has come with several key changes and updates, including the transition from Google Hangouts to Chats. Google Hangouts was a communication app designed to give teams the ability to send direct messages, hold video and audio conferencing, and share images. Google Chats retains all these key features while adding some new ones and improving the app’s ability to allow teams to collaborate online.
Google began automatically migrating Google Workspace users from Hangouts to Chat back in March, 2022 while still allowing access to the original app. This means that in your Google Workspace account, you are now automatically redirected to Chat from Hangouts. You cannot undo this change, but in your personal Google account, you can still choose to use Hangouts over Chat.
Come November 1, 2022, however, all users will migrate fully to Chat and will no longer be able to use Hangouts or access conversations in Google Hangouts. For most users, all conversations should automatically migrate over to the new Chat app, but some may need to download old conversations through Google Takeout if they wish to retain access.
If you haven’t fully migrated from Hangouts to Chat, here’s what you need to know to ensure you don’t lose any data. There are also some cool new features you should know about in the new app.
How to preserve Google Hangouts data
If you are one of the users who has Hangouts data that will not automatically migrate to Chat, Google will notify you via email in September, 2022. In these cases, you can download your Hangouts data following these steps provided by Google Support:
Another important item of note is that until Nov 1, 2022, Hangouts and Chat are synced. This means that if you delete a conversation from Hangouts it will be deleted in Chat and vice versa.
Am I using Hangouts or Chat?
Until Nov 1, 2022 you can still use either app through your personal Google account although Google is encouraging all users to switch to Chat. When using Google Workspace, all users are now by default using Chat. To determine which app you’re currently using in your personal Google account, look for either the Google Hangouts logo or Chat logo. (See icons below.)
Google Chat features you should know about
While Google Chat retained many of the old features of Hangouts, it’s most certainly a different app with a new layout and new features. Here are the new features in Chat you should know about to make online communication a little easier.
Conversations in Google Chat are organized into spaces, much like Slack uses channels. Colleagues can collaborate on specific projects together within a space so that files, tasks, and messages for that project all live within one conversation thread. One thing to know is that Chat spaces are by default private so you will need to be invited to a room before you can join.
You can now reply directly to a colleague within a room using the message threads feature. When you hover over a message you’ll see a chat box icon that allows you to reply to that message in a thread. Your reply opens in a sidebar that’s segmented off from that room’s conversation.
Invite more participants to video chats
Hangouts could accommodate up to 10 users in a video chat. The max is now 250 users with Google Chat.
Related post: Video Conference Call Etiquette and Security Tips
Emojis and GIFs
In Chat, you can finally reply to messages with emojis and GIFs, adding more levity and personality to your conversations.
Direct message with @mentions
Directly message individual team members by using the @mention feature. Type the @ symbol followed by the name of the person you’d like to message and Chat will filter through your contacts and show you that particular person along with other suggested team members in that conversation who you might want to add.
Easy sharing of Google Drive files
Within any conversation, just look for the Google Drive icon. When you click it, you can select any document, sheet, or slide and that file will be automatically shared with everyone in the conversation.
Follow and unfollow threads
Chat allows you to follow or unfollow specific conversation threads so that you only receive notifications for conversations that pertain to you. Just look for the Following button in the upper right hand corner of a thread and click it to unfollow that conversation. You can also choose to simply turn off notifications for a thread but still follow it.
Get the most out of Google Chat
In the age of remote work, staying in touch with colleagues is more important than ever before. Fortunately, the new features in Google Chat make it easier and more enjoyable to do just that. For Google Workspace users, Chat provides a welcome tool outside of email for business communication and online collaboration. New features help prevent important messages and tasks from getting lost in overflowing inboxes or unwieldy conversation threads. If you were using Slack or Discord before because Google Hangouts didn’t offer the same message threading, channel, and response features, now’s a great time to try Chat for your business.
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