Google tries to bring order to its own Babel of video calling apps and continues the "scheduled shutdown" of Hangouts
Hangouts passes the baton of group video calls to Google Meet. The cross-platform instant messaging app gives way to the new - so to speak, since it was launched in 2017 - service from Big G taking another step towards its final retirement, a path that began about a year ago, in October 2019.
With the new version of Hangouts, recently released, Google has decided to completely remove the ability to make group video calls, thus making them in fact available exclusively through Meet. The change came with the update to release 36.0.340725045 where, in addition to the removal of the feature, there is also a banner that says "Video calls in Hangouts now use Google Meet". This is a not entirely unexpected choice, as Mountain View's headquarters has been trying to shut down Hangouts for some time, making way for the service that has now also become part of Gmail, through a direct link in users' inboxes.
Hangouts, which video calls can you still make?
At the moment, if you want to stay loyal to Hangouts by delaying the switch to Google Meet you have to keep in mind that the only type of video chat available is one-on-one. If you try to make a group video call, once you enter the email addresses of the participants the platform will automatically generate a Meet link, with no choice.
Google Meet, how do group calls work?
If Google Meet becomes in this way to all intents and purposes the platform of Big G for group video calls, it is right to remember that there are two possibilities to do so, namely free and paid depending on the number of participants. In fact, up to 10 participants you can use the platform without any cost (except for the connection cost), with some additional features such as subtitles (in English) and screen sharing; in the second case, instead, you need to pay for a Workspace plan that can accommodate up to 25 people and numerous free tools to use.
Hangouts, how to continue making group video calls
If you've already upgraded, the only way to continue using Hangouts for group video chats is to downgrade, which means deleting the version on your device and installing the previous one again. In this case, you need to revert back to build 35.0.327050771.
This method, however, might not be conclusive for all intents and purposes. In fact, if other users should have already updated the Hangouts app, they would not be allowed to make any video calls. Thus, the risk of being the only one to take advantage of the outdated feature would still not allow you to enjoy a video call in the company of your friends or family.
Google Duo, the alternative to Meet?
Before finally saying goodbye to free video chats with more than 10 participants, without having to shell out a single euro, it's worth giving another app a try, namely Google Duo. The application, which is still free of charge, could still be short-lived; in fact, for some time now, the Mountain View giant has been considering replacing it with Meet, making it the only viable option at least for the near future.