Google announced, back in March 2017, that it would redevelop Hangouts, its instant messaging client for various devices, to be more enterprise focused. However, at the time, Google didn't indicate any timeline or key details on how and when it would make these changes. It only introduced two new services for G Suite enterprise customers, called Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. While the former is a text-based communication tool for teams, the latter enables video meetings, again for enterprise users.
According to a new announcement by Google through its blog, the company has indicated a timeline for enacting changes to Google Hangouts for G Suite. This includes an initial action starting April 16, 2019, where administrator action will be needed to keep Hangouts for G Suite running. After this, between April and September 2019, key features on classic Google Hangouts will start making their way to Hangouts Chat. From October 2019 onwards, classic Hangouts will be retired for G Suite customers.
For the time being, the changes are only affecting G Suite users, which include businesses that pay for enterprise-level access to Google's suite of services. This includes email accounts using company-specific domain names, Google Drive cloud storage, communications tools such as Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, and web-based productivity tools such as Google Docs and Google Sheets. Regular consumers who use Google's services will still be able to use classic Google Hangouts for now, although Google does intend to migrate it to Hangouts Chat after the G Suite consolidation is complete. No timeline has been shared for consumer consolidation at the moment.
Google does specify that G Suite customers can transition their users immediately if they like, and that the timeline suggests that the last date to do so will be October 2019. Many enterprises use Google's suite of services to provide email, communication, productivity and cloud storage tools to their employees, and these changes will affect only these users this year.