However, Google has been honing its strategy and has come up with two well-thought-out business productivity offerings that complement G Suite’s core offerings.
Here is a roundup of the current Google Hangouts and Chat products, including the newest kid on the block.
Google Hangouts Chat
Hangouts Chat is a new offering as of February 2018. This was launched as a direct competitor to Slack. Hangouts Chat is free to G Suite users.
Hangouts 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.
Hangouts 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.
Hangouts Chat has a number of other features, including bots for many popular applications such as Copper CRM and Trello. There’s even an API for building your own bot.
Current G Suite users can go to https://chat.google.com if Hangouts Chat is enabled for their organization (which it is by default).
Google Hangouts Meet
Hangouts meet is online meeting application that’s in the same general category as GoToMeeting. In fact, we wrote a comparison of Hangouts Meet and GoToMeeting after Hangouts Meet was released in 2017.
Hangouts meet is included in the price of G Suite. A Hangouts Meet meeting is very easy to set up. Surprisingly, Hangouts Meet does not seem to have gotten much coverage in the online press.
Current G Suite users can go to https://meet.google.com to launch a meeting. Unlike Hangouts Chat which can be enabled/disabled by user, Hangouts Meet is always on for all G Suite users.
Update: At the Google Next conference in July 2018, Google announced that people will be able to start Hangouts Meet meetings with voice commands using either Hangouts Meet Hardware, or IP phones from Cisco and Polycom.
Google Classic Hangouts
Classic Hangouts is 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.
Google Allo is a consumer chat product with an emphasis on mobile. Allo can be used from a desktop browser, but it requires a QR code to be scanned from the mobile app.
Allo incorporates Google Assistant.