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Google Rumored to Shut Down Hangouts in 2020

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Google’s inability to form a coherent messaging strategy is legendary at this point, and it doesn’t look like things are getting any better if a new rumor is accurate. According to a report from 9to5Google, Hangouts will shut down in 2020. Despite Google’s claims otherwise, its messaging setup seems as disjointed and confusing as ever.

Hangouts was Google’s flagship messaging platform starting back in 2013. It grew out of several chat platforms within Google including Google Talk and a feature built for the now-defunct Google+ social network called Messenger (originally Huddle). Hangouts became the default chat network across all of Google’s products, even Gmail. To this day, there’s a prominent Hangouts chat UI inside Gmail even after the recent redesign.

Google stuck with Hangouts for a while, but then it announced Allo at I/O 2016. Allo was intended to compete more directly with the likes of Whatsapp and Apple iMessage. Instead of a Google account, Allo just used your phone number as a user ID. Google said that Hangouts would continue operating, and later noted that it would re-focus the platform for business communication. It never said anything about just shutting it down, though.

According to 9to5, a source says Google plans to shut off consumer access to Hangouts in 2020. So, 2019 may be the last year you get to use Hangouts. The brand would continue to live on for businesses using G Suite as Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.

This move is all the more annoying because Google has effectively canned Allo, the app that superseded Hangouts in 2016. Allo never attracted much usage, and Google announced several months ago that it had “paused” development of Allo in favor of RCS technology in the Google Messaging app. RCS plugs into carrier networks to make traditional text messages more powerful. However, features like encryption and Google Assistant don’t work with RCS. For the time being, you can still download the Hangouts mobile apps and use the desktop interface, but development has stalled with users increasingly complaining about bugs and sluggishness.

Hangouts is probably the closest Google gotten to having a unified messaging strategy. For a while, the Hangouts app supported Hangouts messages, SMS, and Google Voice text messaging. Hangouts made sense because almost everyone has a Google account, even iPhone users. If Google does end up killing consumer access to Hangouts, you’ll probably be offered a chance to export your chat logs for safe keeping. 

Now read: Text Messaging Is Now 25 Years OldSamsung Texting Bug Might Be Sending Your Photos to Random Contacts, and Google Project Fi Is Opening Up to iPhones, Samsung, and More

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