Google is placing an enterprise emphasis on Hangouts, its embattled video chat product, and has divided the product into two main features: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, according to a company blog post. There's a renewed emphasis on Hangouts being a business tool now, too, with support for dozens of attendees and easy joining via Google Calendar invitations.
Hangouts always existed in a odd purgatory where Google couldn't decide if it should be primarily a messaging app or primarily a video app, and so it did both, and it didn't do either of them particularly well. What this means is that when you subscribe to G-Suite, you'll automatically gain access to Hangouts Chat for free.
Employees or customers wanting to join a videoconference in Hangouts Meet can click on a shared link inside Google Calendar or in email.
All of this is part of the company's push to make its G Suite productivity suite more appealing to businesses large and small. Users can also search within chat rooms to find content from any point in time. In other words, it sounds a lot like the Google Assistant bot it introduced in the Allo chat app last summer.
Consumers and customers still using Google's classic Hangouts chat won't see any change in their experience for now. Hangouts is built into Google+, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Voice, plus there's Hangouts apps for iOS, Android, and the web. G Suite customers will be able to apply to try Hangouts Chat through the Early Adopter Program.
The company is diving deeper into workplace text conversations with Hangouts Chat, a service created to provide teams a shared space to discuss work. Google says its video conferences can hold up to 30 people. Google is reportedly wanting to work with Asana, Box, Prosperworks, and Zendesk to help flesh out the Google Hangouts Chat platform. They can also dial into a designated number.
Days after Microsoft announced a release date for its Slack competitor, Teams, Google has introduced its own workplace chat offering.
Google's initial support of bots along with video conferencing could also give it a stronger hand against other players including Facebook, Microsoft, and Cisco. "One is: just get me into the meeting - I want to jump on and have a conversation". While Meets will be the video calling option for team meetings, Hangouts Chat will let teams scattered across different areas connect with each other in virtual rooms. "Rooms and Conversations make it possible for teams to work on entire projects in a productive way that keeps work moving forward, especially when teams can't meet face-to-face". Both Meet and Chat will directly rub up against early enterprise players including Slack and Hipchat.