Google is finally ringing the death knell for Google Talk — more famously known as Gchat — and is replacing it permanently with Hangouts. The company released the latter back in 2013 as a beefier iteration of Gmail's sidebar chat platform, although users were free to use Gchat just as well if so they chose.
Google Pulls Gchat's Life Support
Users won't be able to access Gchat come June 26, at which point they'll be forcibly shifted to Hangouts. Google will notify users with a heads up in the coming weeks. After which they'll be automatically transported to Hangouts, like it or not.
It doesn't seem, however, that the change is significant and experience-breaking. There will still be a messaging platform integrated into the core Gmail experience, and contacts will also be transitioned over. Google has been attempting to convince users to switch to Hangouts for years. This time, it's drastically doing so.
Google Talk For Android Also Pulled
By extension, the Google Talk app for Android will also be defunct, alongside other apps that are designed to work with Google Talk services. To reiterate, this is not looking to be a sudden, brutal change of platforms. Hangouts, and all apps which support Hangouts, will still be functional.
That said, seeing Gchat being punted into the sunset might trigger the waterworks for some people, seeing as how Gchat was the primary messaging tool of yesteryear, becoming huge in the early aughts. It also brings back fond memories of the early days of the internet, at an epoch where AIM headlined internet usage.
Google's Many Messaging Services
But people aren't stuck with Hangouts. In fact, Google has a number of other messaging platforms. Why it's hosting such duplicates of relatively the same thing is a story for another time, but if you fancy anything other than Hangouts, there's also Allo, Duo, Android Messages, and even Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger — an experimental messaging app without a keyboard. While Google's strategy with its many messaging apps is unclear, it is updating both Allo and Duo with much-needed features: Allo with file-sharing, and Duo with voice-only calling functions.
Google Is Also Removing SMS Messaging From Hangouts
As The Verge reports, In addition to formally yanking Gchat, Google also announced that it's removing SMS from Hangouts starting May 22, and that Android users should instead switch to the new Android Messages app, which is getting brand-new features, such as reading receipts, group chats, and high-resolution photo sharing. The move proves Google is intent on pushing for Rich Communication Services, or RCS, an improved standard for text and multimedia sharing. Killing off Gchat might also be Google's way of signaling that it's about to reorient Hangouts into a worthy Slack competitor.
Finally, in another effort of cleaning up its services, Google is also removing Google+ functionality on Gmail in the next month or so, Engadget reports. Also, a number of experimental Gmail Labs items are getting rolled into official Gmail add-ons.
Saddened by the demise of Gchat? Have memories to share about the once-popular messaging platform? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!