New Delhi: Google has announced to move Hangouts users over to Google Chat next year which will be available as a free service — both in the integrated experience in Gmail and the Chat standalone app. Also Read - Google Drops Several Personal Loan Apps. Here's Why You Need To Be Careful

Starting in the first half of 2021, everyone can begin upgrading from Hangouts to Chat. Also Read - After Google, Apple And Amazon Also Remove Parler From Their Platforms Over US Capitol Siege

“To ensure a smooth transition, we will help automatically migrate your Hangouts conversations, along with contacts and saved history,” Google said in a statement on Thursday. Also Read - Kanika Kapoor Received Death Threats During COVID-19 Phase: They Said 'You Should Kill Yourself'

Chat includes familiar Hangouts features like direct and group messaging, with helpful additions like send to inbox, faster search, emoji reactions and suggested replies.

With Chat, you can more easily plan with others on goals and similar interests, share and collaborate on files, and assign tasks to help keep everyone on the same page.

“In addition, Chat features the same strong phishing protections we built in Gmail, so if a link is sent to you via Chat, it will be checked against real-time data from Safe Browsing and flagged if it’s found to be malicious,” the tech giant informed.

Voice users have historically been able to get calls to their Google Voice number using Hangouts.

Beginning this month, Google will direct Hangouts Voice users to the Voice app for text messaging and calling going forward, and early next year, it will remove Voice support in Hangouts.