Updated: April 10, 2020
Google appears to be settling on two brands in this category that are a part of G Suite’s core services, a.k.a. core apps.
Here is a roundup of the Google Hangouts, Meet and Chat products.
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.
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 G Suite 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. In fact, we wrote a comparison of Google Meet and GoToMeeting after Meet was released in 2017.
Meet is included in the price of G Suite. A Google Meet meeting is very easy to set up. Until recently, Meet had not gotten much coverage in the online press.
Current G Suite users can go to https://meet.google.com to launch a meeting. A G Suite administrator can set who has access to Meet and who does not.
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 G Suite 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 G Suite 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 G Suite and consumer Gmail:
- For G Suite 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.