Google Hangouts group video calling has been killed on the Android and the web version with the latest update. Users are being redirected to Google Meet instead. Hangouts is a cross-platform messaging app launched by Google in 2013. The new development comes amidst a series of steps taken by Google to replace Hangouts with Meet and Chat. The change that comes with the new update reflects Google’s ill-fated attempt at an instant messaging service that is almost near its end.
On opening Hangouts after updating it to version 36.0.340725045, you are greeted with a banner informing you that “Video calls in Hangouts now use Google Meet. That gives you live captions, screen sharing, and more.”
Group calls have been weeded-out entirely in favour of Meet. A new menu entry has come up, that allows you to share a Meet link with anybody. When you call a group via the video button in Hangouts, a Google Meet URL will be automatically pasted into the chat for everyone to join in the browser. Although this may not be the most elegant solution, the motive here is to nudge user behaviour away from using Hangouts.
Hangouts can still be used for one-to-one video calls and the audio calls options also remain the same as earlier.
As of now, Meet video calls are limited to 10 participants for free users and 25 for those on paid plans. This is a downgrade as 25 participants were available for everyone before.
As per a report in Android Police, you can still revert to an earlier version of Hangouts to use group video calling. With most phones automatically updating, this wouldn’t be of much advantage unless you are speaking to a lot of people at once.
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