Updated: July 20, 2021
It’s a challenge to keep with Google’s various iterations of chat, online meeting and Hangouts products—as well as the branding of these apps. In fact, we need to frequently update this post.
Google now has three distinct components in this category that are a part of Google Workspace’s core services, a.k.a. core apps.
Here is a roundup of the Google Hangouts, Meet, Chat (and now Rooms) offerings.
Google Chat was first offered in February 2018 as Hangouts Chat. Google Chat is free to Google Workspace users.
Google Hangouts Chat was rebranded “Google Chat” on April 9, 2020. We have accordingly updated the references in this post.
Google Chat allows for creating virtual rooms around which a team can discuss topics. There is a web interface and there are also desktop and mobile apps.
On July 15, 2020, Google announced “a new integrated workspace experience that brings Chat, Meet, and Gmail together on desktop and mobile.” Rooms will now be the shared spaces that unite chat, files and tasks. This is a direct competitor to Slack.
Chat is backward compatible with the now “classic” Hangouts chat feature. If you have been using the classic Hangouts chat feature, You’ll immediately see past conversation threads in the new Hangouts Chat interface.
Google Chat has a number of other features, including bots for popular applications such as Salesforce, Asana, Xero and Trello. There’s even an API for building your own bot.
Current Google Workspace users can go to https://chat.google.com if Google Chat (still Hangouts Chat in the admin UI) is enabled for their organization.
Google Meet is an online meeting application that’s in the same general category as Zoom and GoToMeeting.
We have written in-depth comparisons between Google Meet and Zoom and between Google Meet and GoToMeeting.
Google Hangouts Meet was rebranded “Google Meet” on April 7, 2020. We have accordingly updated the references in this post.
Meet is included in the price of Google Workspace. A Google Meet meeting is very easy to set up. Until recently, Meet had not gotten much coverage in the online press.
Current Google Workspace users can go to https://meet.google.com to launch a meeting. A Google Workspace administrator can set who has access to Meet and who does not.
Learn about the differences between consumer and business Google Meet features.
At the Google Next conference in July 2018, Google announced that people will be able to start Meet meetings with voice commands using either Google Meet Hardware, or IP phones from Cisco and Polycom.
There is a Google Meet Starter Kit that helps with internal adoption.
Google Classic Hangouts
Classic Hangouts is still available to both Google Workspace users and users of consumer Gmail.
Classic Hangout’s chat feature is the foundation for Hangouts Conversations that can be seen at the bottom of the left sidebar in Gmail.
Current Google Workspace users can go to https://hangouts.google.com if Hangouts Meet is enabled for their organization. Gmail users can go to the same URL, but one option behaves slightly differently between Google Workspace and consumer Gmail:
- For Google Workspace users, clicking the video icon in Google Hangouts will open a Hangouts Meet browser tab
- For consumer Gmail users, clicking the video icon in Google Hangouts will launch a classic Google Hangouts video session
Clicking the phone icon in classic Hangouts invokes Google Voice. This allows a user place calls from a desktop to a landline.
On July 19, 2021, Google announced: “Beginning August 16, 2021, we will start upgrading users who have the ‘Chat and classic Hangouts’ setting selected to Chat preferred, unless you explicitly opt out. Users who already have ‘Chat only’, ‘Chat preferred’, or ‘Classic Only’ selected, or users with both services turned off will not be affected.
“Additionally, the Chat and classic Hangouts setting will also be removed for all users in your domain unless you opt out of the upgrade.”