Hangouts is that app that Google seems to be trying to get rid of without actually totally getting rid of it. We’ve seen it lose some key features and now it looks like it’s losing another one as group video calls are not available anymore. Unsurprisingly, Google is now pointing you to use Meet if you still want to do a group video call within the Google eco-system. Meet is the new “pet” that they’re pushing on to users in this time of video conferencing and family video calls.
The updated Hangouts app will tell you that if you do video calls on the app, you will use Google Meet instead. It even says you’ll be able to use features like live captions, screen sharing, “and more”. But technically, you will still be able to use Hangouts but only for one-on-one video calls. They do have a section in the menu where you can share a Meet link with a contact but you will still able to do the call while in the app.
But if you were planning to make a group video call, you will now be redirected to Meet. Well, sort of. You will get a Meet link automatically in your compose box, as per Android Police. It is actually a kind of weird way to redirect people to the app since participants will not be automatically added to the call but will need to proactively join the Meet call and their devices will not even ring.
But we’ll probably have to accept the reality that Meet is something that Google really wants you to use if you want to remain in their ecosystem. If you’re using it for free, you’ll be able to have up to 10 participants only. If you’re already on a Workspace plan, you can have up to 25 people in your video call. So if you’re wanting more than 10 people on a call but you don’t want to pay, you’ll have to find an alternative.
If you’re using an earlier version of Hangouts, you can still probably use group video call there. But a lot of devices are now automatically updating your apps so it might be a lost cause right now.