With the launch of Allo and Duo last year, Google telegraphed that Hangouts would become an enterprise product. Today, the service is being fully revamped into Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. The former is a Slack-like group chat app, while the latter improves video conferencing.
Hangouts Chat is centered around rooms for different projects and groups, with features like threaded conversations. Deep integration with G-Suite allows easy sharing of Drive files, photos, and videos. Another marquee feature is a powerful search with filters that easily surface content.
Additionally, Hangouts Chat as a platform supports third-party bots built using Google App Script. @meet is the first-party bot built into Hangouts that uses natural language processing and machine learning to automatically schedule meetings in Hangouts Meet and Google Calendar.
Hangouts Meet, which was leaked a few weeks earlier, aims to improve video conferencing with a focus on “a light, fast interface and smart participant management.”
It supports up to 30 people on both mobile apps and desktop. Google touts only requiring a shared link to join, with easy access from Calendar and no accounts, plugins, or downloads needed. Other features include a native, full-screen presenting mode, with G-Suite integration pulling information that users need for each meeting.
Hangouts Meet is available starting today with a gradual rollout over the next few weeks. G Suite customers can apply to try Hangouts Chat through the Early Adopter Program. Apps will be available for iOS, Android, and the web.
Update: According to The Verge, free, non-paying Google Account users will have access to Hangouts Chat through a “freemium” model later in the future.
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