Google has announced that it is now starting the process of migrating free, personal Hangouts users to Chat, which it announced in October 2020.

The company mentioned that users who wish to keep a copy of their Hangouts data to use Google Takeout — to download their data before Hangouts is no longer available in November 2022.

“We have continued to invest in Chat to help people better collaborate and express themselves, and now we are taking steps to help remaining Hangouts users move to Chat,” Ravi Kanneganti, Product Manager, Google Chat, said in a blogpost.

Google said that moving to Google Chat will let users edit Docs, Slides or Sheets with side-by-side editing, making it easier to collaborate while continuing the conversation. It also includes Spaces, a dedicated place for topic-based collaboration.

Groups and teams can share ideas, work on documents, and manage files and tasks, all from a single location. And, the new integrated view in Gmail makes it easier to use Chat alongside your Gmail inbox, Spaces, and Meet.

“Switching to Chat also makes expressing yourself more fun, whether you are using emojis with skin-tone selections, rich text editing to give your chats emphasis, @mentions to notify someone in the group or sending a GIF,” the company said.

Google said that, first, people using Hangouts on mobile will see an in-app screen asking them to move to Chat in Gmail or the Chat app. Similarly, people who use the Hangouts Chrome extension will be asked to move to Chat on the web or install the Chat web app.

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In July, people who use Hangouts in Gmail on the web will be upgraded to Chat in Gmail.