It's been several months since Google announced the discontinuation of the Hangouts API, but the news has largely flown under the radar. Support for the API has already ended, and Hangouts apps are set to stop working in just a couple weeks.
Developers and users of Hangouts apps won't get a whole lot of notification, either: Just an onscreen message during Hangouts calls if an affected app is in use. Come April 25 those apps will be unceremoniously dumped, and all that will be left is the barebones Hangouts and a few apps that Google is allowing to continue unaffected.
Why has Google discontinued the Hangouts API?
Google split Hangouts into two products earlier this year: Meet for video conferencing, and Chat for text messaging. Along with that Google formally shifted Hangouts' focus away from consumers and toward the enterprise.
SEE: Microsoft leads the pack in enterprise collaboration tools—but for how long? (TechRepublic)
"[The Hangouts] API was originally intended to support social scenarios for consumer users as part of Google+, whereas Hangouts is now turning to focus on enterprise use cases," Google said in an update to the API's FAQ page.
Hangouts' move to the enterprise as Meet and Chat doesn't mean you won't be able to use it as a consumer, though: The old Hangouts is sticking around, albeit without an API or any apps that extend its usefulness.
The ultimate goal seems to be to drive consumers toward Allo and Duo, Google's new chat tools, while leaving the old Hangouts in maintenance mode.
Business users won't lose all their apps in legacy Hangouts
While Google is completely killing consumer apps in Hangouts it is leaving some enterprise ones untouched. That's good news for businesses that want to stick with Hangouts instead of moving to Meet and Chat.
SEE: Why the cloud brings unique challenges to enterprise collaboration (TechRepublic)
Google hasn't released an actual list of which Hangouts apps will still work after April 25, but it did mention a few that will still be around.
Apps that dial into a call (like Dialpad and RingCentral), integrations with other enterprise communications apps (like Slack), and Google's own on-air broadcasting tools (Toolbox, Control Room, and Cameraman) will all still work.
Will my enterprise Hangouts app still work?
If you use an enterprise Hangouts app other than those listed above there's an easy way to check to see if it's going to bite the dust at the end of the month: Simply fire up a call using the app in question and check for the onscreen notification. If it isn't there you're all set. If it is, sorry—it's time to start looking for a new solution.
The three big takeaways for TechRepublic readers:
- Google has ended support for the Hangouts API, and all consumer-facing Hangouts apps will cease to function on April 25.
- The change is part of Google's splitting Hangouts into two enterprise-focused apps, Meet and Chat. The legacy version of Hangouts will still exist, but Google is trying to move consumers to Allo and Duo.
- Enterprise apps, like Slack, will continue to work in legacy Hangouts. If you rely on an enterprise Hangouts app you should test it to see if it's going to work come April 25.
- Google Cloud Platform signs up enterprise giants, how does it compare to AWS? (TechRepublic)
- Google's big Hangouts revamp: Now you get separate Meet and Chat apps (ZDNet)
- Why the Google Pixel phone won't steal the enterprise crown from the iPhone anytime soon (TechRepublic)
- Google Hangouts streamlined further for the enterprise (ZDNet)
- Google's Allo chat app is clever - but is it smart (CBS News)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.