With the launch of Allo and Duo, Google telegraphed last year that Hangouts would be moving to a more enterprise focus. Today, the service is finally seeing that major revamp, with the app being split into Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. The former is a Slack-like group chat tool, while the latter improves the video conferencing experience.
Hangouts Chat is centered around rooms for projects, featuring threaded conversations at launch. 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 surfaces 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 Android, iOS, 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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