The workplace tools of Google, collectively known as G Suite, will be splitting the Hangouts app into two parts. The first one is Hangouts Meet, which allows up to 30 users in a single conference. The second one is the newly announced Hangouts Chat, a group-focused messaging tool that will go up against Slack and the upcoming Microsoft Teams.
Hangouts has been put on notice ever since Google released Allo and Duo, as the three communication apps have blurred the company's strategy on messaging. However, with the release of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, it seems that Google has finally decided that Hangouts will move forward as a business communication tool that will work adjacent to its consumer apps.
What Is Hangouts Chat?
Google revealed Hangouts Chats through a blog post, with the tool to be gradually rolled out, though users can apply to test the software as an early adopter.
Hangouts Chats will keep the feature of one-to-one chats between users, with the tool able to be used on browsers and on iOS and Android devices. However, the tool will also feature new group chat rooms with threaded messages, which can be considered the biggest move made for Hangouts since it was launched in 2013.
Hangouts Chats features deep integration into Google Docs and Google Sheets, with permissions to access documents and spreadsheets automatically given based on the users in the team that created them. The tool also has a search feature that allows search according to users, rooms, file types, and even links that were sent.
Google will also be adding a new bot that can automatically schedule meetings. When the bot is called up through @meet, it will compare the schedules of the involved users as plotted in their Google Calendars and suggest when the meeting can be held based on everyone's vacant time.
Hangouts Chats, along with Hangouts Meet, seems like it will only be accessible to G Suite customers. Hangouts Meet is currently being rolled out, and combined with Hangouts Chats in the near future and the fact that most businesses use Google tools, the combination of tools could attract more enterprise customers to the G Suite.
Will The New Hangouts Upstage Slack And Microsoft Teams?
Slack has collected a loyal user base due to its simplicity and functionality, as users are able to run it on their mobile device and then switch over to their computers without hassle. There are also a lot more bots available to Slack. However, with Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chats to come to the G Suite, companies may be rethinking why they should keep using Slack when they are already paying for the G Suite, which will soon come with its own enterprise-focused communication tools.
The same would be true for Microsoft Teams. While the upcoming software has Skype tightly integrated into its interface, businesses who are using a combination of G Suite and Skype may be inclined to go with Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chats in the future, though, of course, customers who have invested in Office 365 might not go with that direction.