What you need to know
- Google has started migrating users out of their free Hangouts accounts as part of the Chat transition.
- Users took to the Google Play Store to leave negative reviews for Chat.
- The app has yet to gain feature parity with Hangouts, causing frustration among many users.
Over the past few days, Google has been migrating free users out of Hangouts and asking them to swap over to Chat. The move is a part of the search giant's broader effort to shutter Hangouts for good. However, it appears the transition has not been well received by users.
Just a few days after the "forced" migration was reported by 9to5Google, Google Chat has been bombarded with tons of negative reviews and 1-star ratings over at Google Play Store. As spotted by Droid-Life, there were multiple sorts of complaints posted under the app's listing, the most notable of which pertains to the lack of features Hangouts already offers, such as voice and video calling, multiple image attachment, and more.
As it stands, the app's rating has dropped to 2.7, with mostly negative reviews. One user remarked that the app is a "downgrade from Hangouts and surprisingly unrefined for something that Google is actively encouraging us to use instead." Other complaints center around the lack of customization, support for stickers, and a dedicated gallery browser (it still relies on your phone's file manager). There are also complaints about not having Google Voice integration and notifications not working properly.
The transition for free users started late last week when people began to see a banner on Android saying that "Hangouts is being replaced by Google Chat." At the bottom of the banner message, there's a "Learn more" button that reroutes you to a support document, while a "Switch to Chat in Gmail" option signs you out of Hangouts and opens the Gmail app. The same prompt message shows up on iOS and the web when you visit Hangouts' website.
While the service will be retired for enterprise customers later this year, Google has yet to confirm an end date for Hangouts for free personal accounts. That said, the latest move marks the start of deprecating one of the best messaging apps for Android for free users, although it looks like Google still falls short of achieving feature parity for the two services.
Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.
The one feature I miss is being able create a shortcut to a particular conversation on your home screen. My wife and I have a long-running conversation in Hangouts, and while it's only three clicks away in GMail (open the app, click chat, click on the conversation) and only two clicks away in Google Chat (open the app, click on the conversation), it's only ONE click away in Hangouts: click on the shortcut in the middle of my dock.
Since Chat and Meet are now integrated into the Gmail app, I'm just going to use that. Hopefully they add in missing features and make it better. For now, I'm just glad to have it integrated into a single app again.
I find it funny that Google chat became hangouts, now it's going back to chat. Google messaging platforms are a mess. Stick with one format and develope that one. Almost everything you can do in chat/ hangouts, you can do in messaging. Allo/duo/messaging/chat/hangouts/Google voice. Pick one already!!!
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