Google Hangouts Gets Slack-Like Update
Going forward, Google Hangouts will be split into two services: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.
As its name suggests, Meet is designed to "make joining meetings effortless so that people can be as productive as they are when they're face-to-face," Director of Product Management for Hangouts Scott Johnston wrote in a blog post Thursday. Chat is an "intelligent communication app for teams that takes direct messaging in Hangouts and evolves it to reflect the way modern teams talk business."
Meet is available today and will gradually roll out to all G Suite users over the next few weeks. If you're interested in trying out Chat, you can apply via Google's Early Adopter Program. Meet aims to make even 30-person video conferences glitch free. Just send all participants a link to join your meeting, or click on the link you receive, and voila -- no need to create an account or download anything to join.
"If you're dialing in from a conference room, your laptop or using the dedicated mobile app, just a few clicks and you're in," Johnston wrote. Google has been testing the service over the past three months with the help of Braintree, whose manager of systems administration, Jerome Knapp, called Meet "one of the most frictionless video conferencing systems we've experienced."
The new Chat app, meanwhile, seems a lot like Slack. You can bring teams together in virtual rooms to "create a lasting home for each project, with threaded conversations [a feature Slack just added] so your team's progress is easy to follow," Johnston wrote.
Chat is integrated with G Suite, meaning you can easily share content from Drive and Docs, and view photos and videos right in your conversations.
There's also a search function, but perhaps the coolest feature of all: Chat can automatically schedule meetings for you. Just type "@meet find us a time to meet next week," and an intelligent bot will pencil a meeting into Google Calendar when everyone's available.