Google Hangouts is being killed-off in 2020, signaling the end of an era for Google’s popular IM app. And this is its replacement, Google Hangouts Chat
Google is killing off its popular IM application, Google Hangouts, starting in October 2019. It will be replaced by Google Hangouts Chat and Google Hangouts Meet, an improved version of the current application, complete with more robust features that’ll be available inside Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Workspace.
Why is Google doing this? To make Hangouts better mostly. Google now faces stiff competition from Slack and Microsoft Teams, so it needs to make its enterprise offering (which includes IM and video-call conferencing) more competitive.
Slack and Microsoft Teams are currently dominating the enterprise productivity/collaboration tool niche. And this means Google HAS to evolve its platform in order to bring it more in-line with customer expectations. This is where the new Google Hangouts Chat and Google Hangouts Meet come into play.
NEW Google Hangouts Chat Features
In order to make Hangouts better, Google has basically had to make it more like Slack and Microsoft Teams. The new Google Hangouts Chat application will feature the following new capabilities:
- Create Virtual Rooms – Once you’re signed up for Google Hangouts Chat, you can then start creating “virtual rooms” for all of your projects and then assigning team members to them. For instance, you could have a Developer Team room and a UX Design room. This is a feature lifted directly from Slack, and its presence inside the new Hangouts Chat app is a definite plus.
- Deep Integration With G Suite – If you’re using G-Suite, chances are ALL of your business’ core documents, files, and presentations are stored on Drive. With the new Hangouts Chat application, all of Google’s G Suite applications are integrated into the application for quick sharing and collaboration.
- Filterable Search In Chat – In Slack, you can quickly search inside your messages to find specific conversations and/or statements. It’s a great feature, so it’s no surprise that Google pinched it for Google Hangouts Chat.
- Bots & Script Support Added – Google Hangouts Chat will also support a variety of scripts and also let you install bots. Bots are handy for automating certain processes of leaving messages for new users or when you’re away. They’re totally programmable, so you can pretty much do whatever you like with them.
- Third-Party App Integrations – Like Slack and Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat will integrate with plenty of third-party applications – applications like Asana, Box, Prosperworks and Zendesk. As Hangouts Chat grows, more third-party integrations will be added.
As noted earlier, the idea here is to make Google Hangouts Chat more appealing to enterprise users. And chief among Slack’s USPs is how it enables teams of people to work together on projects and ideas collaboratively and, most importantly, in one place inside the desktop or phone application for Hangouts Chat.
Google Hangouts Chat Release Date
Google Hangouts Chat will be available as part of the G Suite first, meaning G Suite (AKA enterprise) users will get access to the application first. You can download the new Google Hangouts application now if you sign up for Google’s G-Suite. Google Hangouts Chat will roll-out to the public at some point in 2020, replacing the old Google Hangouts app completely.
Google Hangouts Meet – Google’s New Video-Conferencing App
The current Google Hangouts supports video-calling, and while it is certainly fit for purpose, it’s not quite as slick as Microsoft’s Skype. With Google Hangouts Meet, however, this will change; Meet will support up to 30 participants per call and the app is designed to be very lightweight and simple to use.
Another cool thing about Google Hangouts Meet? It’ll run in a browser, so if you don’t have Meet installed, you can still join a meeting – all you need is a link for access. Google Hangouts Meet will predominately run as an application though and it will be available on both iOS/Android and Windows/macOS too.
One of the first companies to use Google Hangouts Meet was Braintree, a PayPal service company. Here’s what Jerome Knapp, Manager of Systems Administration at Braintree, said about it:
“Based on initial use, Hangouts Meet is one of the most frictionless video conferencing systems we’ve experienced. Starting a meeting or sharing a document from the web, calendar invite or meeting room involves a single click. It’s an antidote to the VC fatigue that’s stopped my users and executives from taking full advantage of other systems.”
Google Hangouts Meet also fully integrates with other G Suite applications like Calendar and Drive, meaning you can quickly share meeting times and presentations with team members.
Google Hangouts Meet vs Slack
Overall, the new Google Hangouts platform seems really robust and feature-packed. Will it be enough to claw users and businesses away from Slack and Microsoft Teams? Hard to tell, as competition is very stiff in the collaboration niche at the moment.
Slack has been investing heavily in its platform over the past several years, growing its install base from hundreds of thousands into the tens of millions. Microsoft’s Teams is the largest collaboration platform tool of them all, but this is mostly down to it being bundled inside Microsoft’s Office 365 suite.
Google Hangouts Meet and its close integration with Google’s G Suite of applications will make it very attractive to existing and floating users that are looking for a team collaboration tool. I’m a big fan of Google Drive, but I’ve always wished that Google would create something similar to Slack for it.
Turns out The Big G was listening, and Hangouts Meet is its answer to Slack.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.