Google has just announced that it is allowing business users of its videoconferencing service Hangouts to cut ties with Google+.
Hangouts has been elevated into Google's enterprise apps suite. This means that business users are no longer required to have a Google+ account to use Hangouts. To make video calls on Hangouts, users only need to have a Google Apps customer account.
With its reclassification, Hangouts is now covered under the same terms of service as Google Apps for Business such as Drive, Docs and Gmail. Because of this, Google will provide Hangouts users with the same support service for the enterprise versions of Google Docs and Gmail. The company promises to provide members with a 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime and 24x7 support. As an added perk, Google also promised Hangouts members enterprise integration with its Vault service. Google Apps Vault, which usually costs $5 a month, is used for archiving email and chats and for improved search. The Vault integration is expected to come by the end of the year.
"Google Apps customers have been taking advantage of both Google+ and Hangouts for long enough that we recognize the separate use cases for both. The goal of [today's] launch is to make it easier for employees and businesses to communicate by video. Our customers recognize the value of connecting face-to-face and are driving this demand," a Google spokesperson said.
Clay Bavor, the vice president of product management for Google Apps, said that his company has made Hangouts more compatible with traditional video call platforms. In a blog post, Bavor revealed that Google has teamed up with third-party services BlueJeans and InterCall. With InterCall's technology, people can connect to Hangouts conversations with regular phones. BlueJeans' service, on the other hand, allows users to connect traditional videoconferencing systems to a meeting on Hangouts. This is in addition to Google's earlier collaboration with Vidyo. The result of that partnership, called VidyoH20, allows enterprises to continue using traditional hardware for video calls and connect traditional phones into Hangouts.
Bavor also promised improvements on Google's Chromebox for meetings. The solution is set to get an update that would allow it to connect to two displays, thereby giving users the ability to multitask while giving presentations. The Chromebox service is set to arrive in the UK and Japan over the coming weeks. Currently, it is only available in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Dell is also set to release its version of Chromebox for meetings in September.