Google is turning Hangouts into a Slack competitor ars_ab.settitle(1056083)

Google goes after Slack with Hangouts overhaul

Google is placing an enterprise emphasis on Hangouts, its embattled video chat product, and has divided the product into two main features: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, according to a company blog post. Hangouts Chat is still available to G Suite customers, but only if they apply through an "early adopter program" in which they give feedback. You get a domain name and access to Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and other core G Suite services like Google+, Blogger, and now Hangouts Meet.

More importantly, though, setting up a video meeting should be a lot easier going forward: guests who aren't on the invite (or who happen to have clicked into the meeting) will be able to "knock" and ask to join more easily.

Chat's integration with G Suite means shared content from Drive and Docs can be viewed in conversations. The company revealed at the launch of its consumer apps, Duo and Allo, that Hangouts in future would be developed for business users with a focus on group collaboration and enterprise productivity. There's file sharing, group conversations with @ usernames and even an @meet chat bot that quickly schedules video conferences that can be instantly added to the Calendar of everyone in the room, or just specific individuals.

"We are acquiring Vancouver-based AppBridge that builds connectors to. connect up into Google Cloud", said Prabhakar Raghvan, vice president (apps) Google Cloud at the Cloud Next Conference here.

The new apps may help straighten out Google's historically confusing strategy on messaging, both within Hangouts features and other messaging apps with overlapping capabilities. There's no word on what will happen to the regular "Google Hangouts" service, which now exists on the majority of Android phones. We're not saying Google copied anyone's homework, but it's fair to say Hangouts Chat was at least inspired by Slack.


"Last year, we talked about doubling our enterprise focus for Hangouts and our commitment to building communication tools focused on the way teams work from anywhere, anytime". Enterprise customers will get a dedicated dial-in number making it even easier to get involved.

Google's initial support of bots along with video conferencing could also give it a stronger hand against other players including Facebook, Microsoft, and Cisco.

Organizing and conducting video meetings will also become simpler.

Hangouts Chat is a way to try and stem customers away from using third-party services since it's an area where Google has been lacking until now.

Up to 30 people can join a meeting, without any downloads or browser plugins. Additionally, Hangouts Chat evolves the Hangouts experience in a way that can scale to enterprise-sized organizations.

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