Google Chat is starting to look even more like Slack

Keeping in touch with your colleagues around the world could soon be a lot easier thanks to a new update to Google Chat.

The online collaboration service is now allowing users to create group chats (known as Spaces) within Google Chat that you can then share with others in your organization.

Much like Slack, once a new custom Spaces group has been created, you'll be able to share it with whoever you choose, with participants able to join by clicking on a custom link. 

Google Chat or Slack?

“With this launch, Spaces are no longer restricted to only people added to the conversation,” Google said in a Workspace blog post announcing the news.

The company says the update will be particularly useful for creating and sharing “topic-based conversations” within your business, such as team discussions, how-to guides and mentoring opportunities. 

Google Chat spaces share

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

The change could also help leaders or admins share organizational and policy updates, or gather together a particularly interested or skilled group, such as when investigating an outage. Or, it could be great for just finding those with similar interests to yourself, allowing for custom groups to celebrate anything from sports to cooking.

Spaces will only be able to be shared with those inside your organization, and will have to be entirely new groups created from this date forward.

The feature is available and rolling out now to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The news is the latest change to Google Chat to bring it more in line with some of its rivals, offering tools such as in-line replies and native content search, bringing Google Chat closer in line with services like Slack and Teams.

Google Chat officially replaced Google Hangouts earlier this year, with all enterprise and business users on “Classic Hangouts” having been upgraded to the new service by March 22, 2022.

The company says the move will ensure all Google Workspace customers are using the same platform, with anyone trying to access Hangouts being redirected across to Google Chat.

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Google Chat will officially replace Hangouts within weeks

Google has finally confirmed the date when it will be closing its Hangouts instant messaging service for good.

The company has revealed that enterprise and business users on “Classic Hangouts” will be upgraded to the new Google Chat service by March 22, 2022.

In a blog post, the company added that the move will ensure all Google Workspace customers will be using the same platform, with anyone trying to access Hangouts being redirected across to Google Chat.

Farewell Google Hangouts

The news brings an end to a rather protracted saga for Google that saw it extend the deadline for Hangouts' retirement several times.

News of a move first emerged in October 2019, with Hangouts officially rebranded as Google Chat for what was then G Suite enterprise users back in November 2020, and user migration over to the new service beginning the following month.

The news came as Google also revealed it would rebrand its video conferencing service (then Hangouts Meet) to Google Meet.

Now, the “final phase” of the migration will be complete within weeks, with Google noting that “it is not possible to opt out of this change”, and that all classic Hangouts applications will also be disabled, including the Android and iOS apps.

However, users will be able to export their historic Hangouts and Chat data using a special Google tool.

The change will not affect Hangouts users with only personal Google accounts, but it's likely that they will see a similar change soon.

For now, if your organization’s Google Workspace Admin console setting is set to “Chat and classic Hangouts,” the automatic upgrade to the new platform will occur “over the course of three weeks starting March 22, 2022.”

Customers with the “Classic Hangouts only” setting will be upgraded over the course of five weeks, starting April 4, 2022. 

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WhatsApp gives us a glimpse at Android-to-iOS chat migration

WhatsApp is not only one of the most popular chat apps on the market, it is also one of the fastest evolving. It's long been known that WhatsApp's beta program has given us an enticing glimpse into the future, revealing some of what's to come, and this is once again the case with the latest preview of the iOS version of the chat app.

The most recent preview shows that WhatsApp is going to make life a little easier for anyone moving from an Android phone to an iPhone. We have already seen chat migration enabled for people making the switch away from iOS, but now the focus is on users moving in the opposite direction.

In WhatsApp beta for iOS version 22.2.74, we are given a sneak preview of what the chat migration to the iOS process will look like. We have already seen some evidence of this in the beta version of the Android app, but now we know a bit more about how things are panning on the iPhone side of things.

It seems that the migration process will not be handled entirely by the main WhatsApp app itself, but will instead require the use of a Move to iOS app as well. Screenshots from the latest iOS app beta give us a clear indication of the look and feel of the Importing Chat History process.

Permission, please

WhatsApp chat migration

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

As you would expect, you need to grant permission for WhatsApp to access your chat history in order to start the migration process. Interestingly, and perhaps slightly worryingly, it seems that the offer to import chat history is a one-time offer. An on-screen message informs users that “You will not be able to import later if you skip this step”.

At this stage, we have no further information about when WhatsApp is planning to start the rollout of this feature to everyone. We also don't know anything about the versions of iOS and Android that will be supported, but more details are certain to spring up over the coming weeks and months.

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