Google goes after Slack with revamped Hangouts

Posted March 12, 2017

In an effort to make Hangouts more business-friendly, Google is splitting the service into two separate apps: Hangouts Meet, a videoconferencing app, and Hangouts Chat, a Slack-like messaging app designed for teams.

Google Hangouts is a unified communications service that enables text, voice, or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group.

As for Hangouts Chat, well, this is where Google turns Hangouts into Slack, the collaborative messaging tool that so many nerdy journalists and techies won't ever shut up about.

At the moment, this new Google Hangouts Chat is still in private beta and what it does is bring together private rooms for conversations on G-Suite as well as other third-party platforms. You get a domain name and access to Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and other core G Suite services like Google+, Blogger, and now Hangouts Meet. Instead, each person gets invited to join the chat via a simple shared link that can be send by email or posted on a saved Calendar. The service, out now, lets up to 30 users in multiple locations conduct video calls over IP and share G-Suite documents or images with the group. While Allo hasn't been a roaring success, it looks like Hangouts is being revamped to take on Slack, the messaging app that's popular with businesses, enterprises across the world. It also includes a bot called @meet that lets users use natural language to automatically schedule meetings. Google had earlier indicated that it viewed Hangouts as more suited for enterprises, when it had launched the Allo app previous year to take on the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Hangouts Chat isn't quite ready for stardom just yet and is available for now only through Google's Early Adopter Program.

Hangouts Chat is more the Hangouts we've come to know and tolerate.

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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 is leveraging its capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence to build intelligence and automation into its productivity applications and continues to better integrate social features to cater to team collaboration as well as personal productivity."

Hangouts Meet, on the other hand, is working to simplify meetings. The company wanted to improve Hangouts to make it easier and faster for people start and join video conference.

Hangouts Chat is a platform, too, so that means you can expect third-party integrations in the form of bots, which will allow your teams to do more within their conversation.

It's clear that Chat and Meet are focused on executives only.