Companies are increasingly taking an enterprise focus when it comes to chat services. Facebook, for instance, offers Workplace, a mobile and web app that aims to keep your team members connected, while Microsoft has Teams, and then, of course, there's Slack, the app that kicked-started this trend in which businesses now require purpose-built tools to help their employees communicate.
These tools are more popular then ever because, as Google noted, more than half of the workforce is expected to "contribute remotely by 2020". They need something that will help them to connect over video, and their chat experience has to be collaborative. So, with that in mind, Google has turned Hangouts into two services, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, which are aimed at bringing teams together.
Here's everything you need to know about the new Hangouts.
- What is Slack and how does it work?
- Facebook Workplace: How does it work and when can you use it?
- Microsoft Teams is here: A Slack-like app that's part of Office 365
What is Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is a unified communications service that enables text, voice, or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group. Hangouts is built into Google+, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Voice, plus there's Hangouts apps for iOS, Android, and the web. It's essentially a useful and cost-effective collaboration platform for the average person as well as enterprise customers.
How has Google Hangouts changed?
Google has described Hangouts Meet as "a new video meeting experience with one goal: make joining meetings effortless". The company wanted to improve Hangouts to make it easier and faster for people start and join video conference. Hangouts Meet is designed to have a "light, fast interface and smart participant management". It even allows up to 30-person meetings.
Hangouts Chat is "an intelligent communication app for teams that takes direct messaging in Hangouts and evolves it to reflect the way modern teams talk business," according to Google. The idea behind it is that teams working on a project should be able to discuss tasks, share work, and more. So, Hangouts Chat offers virtual rooms with threaded conversations and integration with other Google products, like Drive.
How does Hangouts Meet work?
To start your meetings, you'll simply share a link. There will be no accounts, plugins, downloads, or hassles required. People can click on this link from Google Calendar, an email invite, or an ad-hoc share. And if you’re dialing in from a conference room, your laptop, or a dedicated mobile app, Google said it will be "just a few clicks and you’re in", though it's being vague on details right now.
Hangouts Meet offers native, full-screen presenting, which Google said makes it easy to showcase your team’s projects.
G Suite integration
G Suite is a package of cloud-based services that can provide your company or school with a new way to work together online. You get a domain name and access to Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and other core G Suite services like Google+, Blogger, and now Hangouts Meet. Meet integrates directly with G Suite. And for G Suite Enterprise customers, each meeting has a dedicated dial-in phone number.
How does Hangouts Chat work?
Hangouts Chat features dedicated, virtual rooms for each project your team may have - and they consist of: threaded conversations, so your team can chat and track the progress of the discussion; deep integration with G Suite, so you can share content from Drive and Docs, or you can view things like photos and videos directly from conversation; and filterable search so you can search back through old discussions.
Hangouts Chat is a platform, too, so that means you can expect third-party integrations in the form of bots, which will allow your teams to do more within their conversation. Google said it has already teamed up with companies like Asana, Box, Prosperworks, and Zendesk.
Hangouts Chat features @meet, which Google has described as an "intelligent bot built on top of the Hangouts platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to automatically schedule meetings for your team with Hangouts Meet and Google Calendar". In other words, it sounds a lot like the Google Assistant bot it introduced in the Allo chat app last summer.
When will Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat be available?
Hangouts Meet is generally available now and will gradually roll out to all G Suite customers "over the next few weeks". G Suite customers will be able to apply to try Hangouts Chat through the Early Adopter Program. Go here for more information about that.
How much does Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat cost?
You can use Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat as part of your G Suite package. Go here for more details on pricing for each plan. The basic plan starts at $5 per user per month.
Is Hangouts going away?
No. Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat are essentially the enterprise counterparts to Allo and Duo. The current Hangouts app isn’t going away just yet, and we imagine it'll be updated in the future to reflect some of these new changes.
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