We’ve all been wondering what exactly Google is up to with its myriad of messaging platforms lately. From messenger to Hangouts to Allo to a Google Voice revamp, the hope of a unified messaging platform has pretty much dissolved. Further, the options missing from each platform have left consumers to scratch their heads in question as they await Google’s answer to this growing problem.
This week’s announcement seems to only further this issue, but when looked at from the right angle gives a bit of clarity and focus to one of Google’s messaging platforms: Hangouts.
Hangouts is Evolving
From Google’s Keyword Blog:
Last year, we talked about doubling down on our enterprise focus for Hangouts and our commitment to building communication tools focused on the way teams work: from anywhere, at anytime. More than half of the workforce will contribute remotely by 2020, so businesses require purpose-built tools to help employees succeed. Our customers have told us it should be effortless for them to connect over video and that chat should be more collaborative, so we’re evolving Hangouts to focus on two experiences that help bring teams together and keep work moving forward: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.
Though seemingly two new products, Google looks to be truly focusing Enterprise attention on these new Hangouts initiatives.
Hangouts tried to be an all-in-one messaging solution, but small issues continually plagued its attempts. SMS integration was hit or miss, video chats could bog down system resources, and somewhat-clunky UI made group conversations usable but painful at times.
I use Hangouts every day and it is my messenger of choice, but I won’t say it is without its issues. And, as both a work and casual user, there’s definitely room for improvement from a features standpoint. I won’t get into all my gripes here as many of you who also use Hangouts frequently likely have the same hang ups, but I will say this: for casual use, Hangouts has far fewer fun features to enjoy than its competition and for business use, far too many issues to constantly rely on.
Google looks to be fixing one part of this problem.
Granted, general consumers who aren’t G Suite customers won’t see any of this, G Suite users are in for a substantial upgrade.
Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat
While video and chat are things Hangouts does already, both of these initiatives under the Hangouts branding look to greatly upgrade the existing functionality.
Hangouts Meet, for instance, will now allow up to 30 people in a single video chat. Joining the conference video is way simpler, too. Just a link is needed, not a Google Account. No plugins or downloads are needed either. Share the link in a Calendar invite and you’re off and running.
That’s almost enough to sell me on it. I can’t tell you how many awkward video meetings took far too long to even get off the ground. A simple, easy way to get started is a big win.
Braintree, a Paypal service, has been using this new service for a few months and has this to say:
Based on initial use, Hangouts Meet is one of the most frictionless video conferencing systems we’ve experienced. Starting a meeting or sharing a document from the web, calendar invite or meeting room involves a single click. It’s an antidote to the VC fatigue that’s stopped my users and executives from taking full advantage of other systems.
Hangouts Chat totally reinvents Hangouts conversations. Note, I didn’t say it reinvents collaboration. Instead, Google looks to be drawing on one of the most-used platforms for this type of thing: Slack. With Hangouts Chat, you get dedicated rooms where projects live, getting threads out of your inbox and to a static place where threaded conversations can take place.
Along with full integration of G Suite services like Docs, Sheets, Slides and Photos, this new layout gives users an easy, clean way to work through projects on a per-project basis, not intertwining emails and messages. It is Google, after all, so robust search from the top to the bottom of every thread is also available.
Additionally, bot functionality is here as well, giving users the ability to schedule meetings automatically as it leverages machine learning and natural language processing to help you get things done.
G Suite Only For Now
For the time being, it looks like this new stuff will only be available to G Suite users. No indication has been made on any of this new goodness coming to standard Hangouts. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, either. With Allo and Duo not going anywhere for now (despite the general loathing of Allo at the moment), it seems clear that there are two distinct coupled communications apps for two distinct groups of people.
Allo and Duo for consumers, Meet and Chat for business.
Hangouts Meet should be widely available for G Suite customers starting now and rolling out fully over the next 2 weeks. Hangouts Chat is without a launch date firmly in place, but G Suite users can join the Early Adopters Program if you are ready to give it a spin.
SOURCE: Google Keyword