Google is splitting Hangouts into two separate apps, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Hangouts Chat is a channel-based messaging app in the same vein as Slack, while Hangouts Meet is a video conferencing app for up to 30 people at a time. Which all sounds great, if not a little confusing.
Google has quite a history with apps designed to help us all communicate better. There was Google Talk, Google Voice, Buzz, and Google+. Then came Google Hangouts, before Allo and Duo joined the party. And now Google has added Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet to the mix.
Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet
Hangouts Chat is Google’s new idea for direct messaging. Team members create virtual rooms to hold conversations in, with threaded conversations allowing anyone and everyone to follow what’s being said. Both Google’s own services and third-party services will be integrated into the app.
Google calls Hangouts Chat an “intelligent communication app for teams”. Which is also a description you could apply to both Slack and Microsoft Teams. We’re not saying Google copied anyone’s homework, but it’s fair to say Hangouts Chat was at least inspired by Slack.
Hangouts Meet is a lightweight video conferencing app. It supports up to 30 participants at a time, with everyone joining through a shared link without the need to log in to an account. Thanks to the Web RTC standard, anyone using Chrome or Firefox doesn’t even need a plugin.
Video conferences can be arranged using Google Calendar, with anyone invited able to join simply by tapping the calendar entry. Even those who aren’t invited to a meeting can “knock” to ask to join. Enterprise customers will get a dedicated dial-in number making it even easier to get involved.
Confusing Consumers With Endless Apps
Google Hangouts will still exist for the time being. Meanwhile, Hangouts Meet is available right now, and rolling out to G Suite customers over the next few weeks. Hangouts Chat is still in development, and so will only be available through the Early Adopter Program for now.
This is all a little confusing if we’re honest. Google obviously wants to appeal more to enterprise customers with Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, with us ordinary consumers being steered towards Allo and Duo. But we can’t be the only ones losing track of everything on offer.
Do you currently use Google Hangouts? What do you think of Google dividing Hangouts into two distinct apps? Are you likely to use Hangouts Chat? Or Hangouts Meet? Or both? Or neither? Have you ever used Allo and/or Duo? Please let us know in the comments below!