Google Talk — affectionally known as “Gchat” — is finally getting replaced for good. Google actually released Hangouts back in 2013 as a more feature-filled chat service to take the place of Talk in the Gmail sidebar, but users have been able to stick with the older, more basic service if they chose.
That’s changing on June 26th, when anyone still using Gchat will be forcibly transitioned over to Hangouts. It’s not a major change for most — there will still be chat built into Gmail, contacts will transition over, and Google has been trying to get people to switch over to Hangouts for the last four years, so maybe it’s time for Talk to go. The Google Talk Android app will also stop functioning, as will any third-party apps designed for Talk. (Again, anything using Hangouts — which is essentially the same thing — will still be fine.)
Still, it’s sad to see the messaging service go, even if it’s mostly just in name — Gchat was a huge way of communicating on the internet back in in the early 2000s, and harkens back to a simpler time when AIM ruled supreme. Fortunately, Google has at least seven other messaging services that you can use, including Allo, Duo, Hangouts, Android Messages, Voice, and Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger, so you’ve got plenty of other options to use going forward. (One could also wonder why Google is switching people over to Hangouts when Allo exists, but that’s a thought exercise left for another time.)
Google also confirmed that it will be removing SMS support from Hangouts (as previously rumored), and encouraging Android users to switch over to the newly renamed Android Messages app. It’s a move that speaks both to Google’s increasing push for RCS messaging, as well as the company’s ambitions to reposition Hangouts into a viable business messaging tool to take on competitors like Slack.