Google has been working hard in recent years to consolidate its communications utilities into a single platform. Hangouts, originally launched in May 2013, was designed to replace Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and the original Hangouts, a video chat system that was formerly part of the Google+ platform. That last sentence alone shows what a confusing mess it’s been since Google began competing with industry leaders such as Slack, Cisco Spark, and Microsoft Teams.
The technology giant is making yet another major change to its communication solutions, but one that should be particularly welcome in the enterprise environment. In fact, the latest changes to Google Hangouts follow in the footsteps of many other important changes to G Suite, such as the introduction of new, enterprise-ready tools for Google Drive and third-party plugins for Gmail.
Although the current Hangouts app isn’t disappearing just yet, Google is splitting it into two services: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. The new Chat will be aimed towards team messaging, while Meet will be purely for live video and audio communications.
Improve Team Collaboration with the New Hangouts Chat
Based on the striking similarities between Hangouts Chat and Slack, Google is doing its best to dethrone the enterprise chat application. Designed solely for team messaging, the new app will provide team-based chatrooms and will be available both on the Web and in the form of a mobile app for iOS and Android.
Hangouts Chat should prove especially valuable for facilitating teamwork collaboration in enterprise environments, since it provides threaded conversations like those found in Gmail. Users will also be able to create chat rooms for managing individual teams and projects, while deeper integration with Google’s other products will allow you to easily share files stored in Google Drive or upload any Google Docs documents. Of course, uniting all these features is a powerful search function complete with filters to help you find specific messages quickly.
With the goal of providing a seamless communications experience for business users, Hangouts Chat will even support a basic scripting language so users can incorporate third-party apps. As such, businesses will be able to integrate additional functionality into the platform, tailoring it to meet their specific requirements and allowing team members to get more done without leaving the conversation window.
Out of the box, Hangouts Chat also comes with the @meet bot, which uses machine learning and natural language processing to automatically schedule meetings using the new Hangouts Meet platform or the Google Calendar.
Hangouts Meet: Video Conferencing Made Easy
As the name suggests, Hangouts Meet is designed to facilitate conference calls with team members all over the world. More than ever before, business meetings happen virtually, and Hangouts Meet offers a quick and easy way to join them thanks to full integration with Google Calendar and other G Suite products.
The central idea is that it should take only a single click to enter a video or audio conference. And for participants calling in by phone, PIN codes are included with dial-in numbers, so they won’t need to navigate confusing automated menus.
Hangouts Meet completely redesigns the app’s original meeting experience. It won’t need any plugins and is designed to leave a much smaller footprint on your system. This conserves laptop battery life and allows you to multitask more effectively during conference calls.
Meet introduces various new features too, including an integrated call-recording function, and an higher participant ceiling — now pegged at 30 call seats. Google’s own video conferencing hardware, the ChromeOS-powered Chromebox for Meetings, will also start shipping with the Hangouts Meet service fully integrated.
But How Will the New Platform Help Businesses?
Google split the Hangouts platform into two closely related but separate components to help better fulfil two goals. Meet is intended to provide a distraction-free and on-demand video or audio conferencing experience, while Chat focuses on keeping teams connected 24/7.
Meet is already generally available to all G Suite users, and Chat is currently available only through an early adopter program.
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