Update: March 10 – Google has now released the Hangout Meet app for Android, which is available for approved G Suite enabled accounts.
Original story – Google is making some major changes to its popular Hangouts online text and video services, in order to stick with its current goal of turning it into a business and enterprise tools. Today, it revealed that it will be basically splitting Hangouts into two clients and services. One is Hangouts Meet, which focuses on video, while the other is Hangouts Chat, which is all about group text chatting.
Google actually launched Hangouts Meet quietly a week or so ago for the web and iOS. Today’s official announcement states that this new service will allow businesses to conduct 30-person video conferences without a lot of the normal hassles like each person having his or her own account. 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. Google says that Hangouts Meet will be available for all businesses and enterprise customers with a G Suite subscription over the next few weeks.
The second app is Hangouts Chat, and it’s clearly targeting the audience that is currently using Slack messaging service. Hangouts Chat will offer businesses a way to create chat rooms for different teams, with ways for each team member to quickly chat and share files with other team members, including content stored in Google Drive and Google Docs. It will integrate with third-party services like Box, Asana and others.
Hangouts Chat will support chatbots too, along with Google’s own @meet chatbot, which can be set up to automatically schedule meetings on Hangouts Meet. The new Hangouts Chat is currently in early testing, but business customers can sign up to try it out via Google’s Early Adopter Program.
The big question for current users of the old Hangouts apps is, “Will it be going away?”. Google doesn’t state the fate of the app in its blog post, but TechCrunch reports that, according to Google’s Scott Johnston, it will be replaced at some point by the new Meet and Chat apps.
What do you think of Google’s new Hangouts business strategy?