In an effort to make Hangouts more business-friendly, Google is splitting the service into two separate apps: Hangouts Meet, a videoconferencing app, and Hangouts Chat, a Slack-like messaging app designed for teams. When compared to Slack or even Microsoft Teams, Google's Hangouts Chat doesn't look very impressive. Hangouts Chat is a channel-based messaging app in the same vein as SlackSolid Tips to Master Slack & Be the Most Effective Employee Ever Solid Tips to Master Slack & Be the Most Effective Employee Ever Don't have a strategy for managing Slack? No additional apps or plug-ins are required to use Hangouts Meet.
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.
While Hangouts Chat will be initially available to current G Suite customers eligible for participation, once it becomes publicly available, anyone with a Google Account will be able to use it similar to how they use Hangouts today.
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Hangouts Chat will support chatbots too, along with Google's own @meet chatbot, which can be set up to automatically schedule meetings on Hangouts Meet. So if you have the number, Google will handle the PIN for you. It will be interesting to see what Google decides about the future of the basic Hangouts app.
While Slack now may have the upper hand in terms of integrations, Google could have the leverage in selling to the enterprise, an area where Slack just only recently officially targeted with its enterprise grid offering. The new Hangouts Chat is now in early testing, but business customers can sign up to try it out via Google's Early Adopter Program.
Google is moving fast on this, apparently, and businesses in the Early Adopter Program are already getting the new version. Scott Johnston, director of product management at Google Hangouts, said the changes were created to enable teams of colleagues to communicate "from anywhere at anytime".
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Those interested in giving it a try can download the Google Hangouts Meet APK right below.
There's also a new video component called "Hangouts Meet".
The company also announced a slew of products and services for both enterprises and individuals including add-ons for Gmail, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.
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When will Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat be available?