Google is, once again, changing up its messaging app strategy. The company plans to make Chat, its Slack-like app, free for everyone in 2021, when it will push people currently using Hangouts to use Chat instead.
If you’re having trouble keeping track (understandable considering Google notoriously confusing messaging strategy) Chat is the company’s enterprise chat app originally introduced as part of Google’s business offerings. It has features similar to the original Hangouts experience, but has extra upgrades like reactions and reply suggestions.
But starting next year, instead of only being available businesses that use Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps) the upgraded “Chat” app will be available to everyone who uses Gmail.
“Next year, Chat will become available as a free service—both in the integrated experience in Gmail and the Chat standalone app,” Google says in an update. The company says it will allow users to “begin upgrading” in “the first half of 2021,” and that conversation history from Hangouts will automatically carry over to Chat to ease the transition.