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 150 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.
The Hangout Meets Speakermic, which can be purchased separately, will soon allow for voice commands.
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 the Safari browser.
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) may make the most sense.