After pivoting into a more business-focused app in 2017, it appears that the consumer version of Google Hangouts will soon be killed off.
Google is planning to shut down Hangouts for consumers in 2020, according to a new report from 9to5Google. The exact timing of the shutdown isn't known, but it does sound like 2019 will be the last full year that you'll be able to use the consumer version of Google Hangouts.
Hangouts originally launched as Google's latest messaging service in mid-2013, allowing users to chat on Android, iOS, and the web. The app offered features like group chats, video chats, and synced notifications, and it became a popular option for folks that wanted a cross-platform messaging service. The app never seemed to gain significant traction with consumers, though, and recently Google rebooted Hangouts into a business-focused service and has been pushing Android Messages for consumers, including rolling out a web version.
Considering the move to a business-centric version of Hangouts and Google's focus on Android Messages for consumers, the news that Hangouts for consumers will be shut down isn't too surprising. Still, there are bound to be some folks out there disappointed by this news. At least Hangouts users have all of 2019 to find an alternative messaging service.
UPDATE: Scott Jonston, who runs Hangouts, has responded to this rumor. He says that there are "no decisions being made about when Hangouts will be shut down" and that existing Hangouts users will be migrated Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.
2/ So while that will result in the eventual shut down of Hangouts classic (as we now call it), it doesn't imply we are ending support for the use case supported by the product: messaging and meetings.
— Scott Johnston (@happyinwater) December 1, 2018
UPDATE 2: A Google spokesperson has given us the following statement: "In March 2017, we announced plans to evolve classic Hangouts to focus on two experiences that help bring teams together: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Both Chat and Meet are available today for G Suite customers and will be made available for consumer users, too. We have not announced an official timeline for transitioning users from classic Hangouts to Chat and Meet. We are fully committed to supporting classic Hangouts users until everyone is successfully migrated to Chat and Meet."