Google has introduced a new look Hangouts as it seeks to take on Slack and Microsoft in the battle of the workplace communication platform. Hangouts has been cut into two, naming one half Hangouts Chat, and the other Hangouts Meet.
Hangouts Chat looks like a clear attempt to go after Slack. It focuses on messaging between teams, and even has virtual rooms with threaded conversations. It also has integration of G Suite so that content from Drive and Docs, or photos and videos can be viewed in conversations.
“Working on a project means bringing cross-functional teams together, discussing tasks that need to get done and sharing your work. Chat is built with exactly this in mind,” said Scott Johnston, director of product management for Hangouts, in a blog post. “Chat is built not only to reflect the way teams work, but to provide a platform for the enterprise tools they work with. The Hangouts Chat platform supports a wide range of capabilities — from bots to simple scripting using Google App Script — and integrates with third-party applications so teams can do more right from within the conversation.”
Hangouts Meet focuses on video meetings, with the aim of making joining meetings ‘effortless’. Meetings can be started with just the use of a shared link, and allows people to join from Calendar, and email invite or an ad-hoc share. It can also be integrated directly with G Suite.
“We've consistently heard from customers about ways we can improve Hangouts, like making it easier to work with external clients or reducing the ‘time to start’ a meeting to zero,” said Johnston. “That's why we've built Hangouts Meet…”
Meet is available generally, with a gradual roll out to all G Suite customers ‘over the next few weeks’, while G Suite Customers can apply to try Chat through the early adopter program.