This capability is a major differentiator between consumer Gmail and business G Suite.
Almost all the component functionality (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Maps) that is available to a G Suite user is also available to a consumer Gmail user.
However, a Hangouts Meet meeting can only be initiated by someone who is part of an organization that is using G Suite and for which the Meet capability has been enabled for the G Suite organization.
Anyone can easily join a Hangouts Meeting from their desktop or mobile device. A G Suite account is not required to join a meeting—only to initiate one.
Compared to classic Hangouts, Google has simplified the process for setting up an online meeting and inviting others. With G Suite Basic, up to 25 participants can join a meeting. G Suite Enterprise edition allows for up to 50 participants.
To understand how Hangouts Meet works, it’s helpful to compare it to a familiar online meeting application—GoToMeeting.
At a high level, Hangouts Meet is camera first and screen sharing second. GoToMeeting is screen sharing first and camera second.
As with GoToMeeting, a presenter can show either a single application or an entire screen to participants.
GoToMeeting Pro edition allows for recording online meetings. G Suite Enterprise edition provides a similar capability.
Hangouts Meet vs GoToMeeting: Pros
With Hangouts Meet, no client software is required. This means that participants do not need to download a plugin. It also means that Meet works on Chromebooks.
Hangouts Meet has been integrated with Gmail and Google Calendar. A video meeting can be scheduled as part of creating a calendar event. Calendar invitation recipients who use G Suite or Gmail can join the meeting by clicking a link in their copy of a calendar event.
There are a number of other options for starting and joining a Hangouts Meet meeting.
There’s no additional cost for Hangouts Meet beyond the $5 per user per month G Suite Basic price or the $10 per user per month G Suite Business price.
GoToMeeting’s most popular plan, Pro, is $29 per user per month. GoToMeeting Pro allows for up to 50 participants.
With Meet, any participant can start presenting their screen without permission from the current presenter. This is a pro in terms of convenience, but a con in terms of control.
Until recently, Hangouts Meet had no dial-in option unless the person who initiated the meeting works for a company that is is using G Suite Enterprise.
In April 2018, Google announced that G Suite Basic and G Suite Business customers will now be able to create Hangouts Meet meetings with dial-in phone numbers.
International dial-in numbers are currently only available for G Suite Enterprise users.
Google offers the meeting room, which is a set of four hardware components that simplifies the setup and management of meetings.
Hangouts Meet vs GoToMeeting: Cons
In Meet, the default camera mode for participants is on. With GoToMeeting, the default camera mode is off. For setting up a meeting with participants outside of one’s organization, a “camera off” default is preferable.
With Meet, every participant must be individually admitted to the meeting. With GoToMeeting, participants can pop into a meeting at will.
Unlike with GoToMeeting Pro, there is no way to live annotate a screen. A presenter cannot give another participant keyboard and mouse control on the presenter’s screen.
Hangouts Meet does not yet support Firefox or Safari browsers. Google has announced that Firefox support will be available in May 2018.
For organizations that use G Suite, the price of Hangouts Meet is hard to beat — it’s free for as many users as there are within a G Suite organization.
Meet makes it easy to initiate and join meetings. Meetings can be initiated and joined in a variety of ways.
For now, Hangouts Meet is better suited to an internal audience or a familiar audience — mainly due to the “camera on” default and the ability for any participant to start presenting their screen at any time.
GoToMeeting is better suited to a less familiar audience, such as a group of people to whom a salesperson is making a presentation. GoToMeeting is also helpful for tech support, should a tech need remote keyboard and mouse control of someone’s screen.
For many companies, a blend of Hangouts Meet (all users) and a traditional online meeting application such as GoToMeeting (select users) makes sense.