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article imageGoogle unveils its reinvented Hangouts messaging apps

By James Walker     Mar 10, 2017 in Technology
Google has officially launched the all-new version of its acclaimed Hangouts messaging and video calling app. The company has separated the app into two distinct products, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Both are now intended for corporate use.
After previously stating it no longer intends Hangouts to be used by consumers, Google has taken the next step in shifting general users away to its new messaging apps, Allo and Duo. Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat are essentially business-friendly versions of Allo and Duo, with Meet focusing on video calls (handled by Duo on the consumer-side) and Chat simple messaging.
Hangouts Meet
Hangouts Meet is a video conferencing solution that lets you network with up to 30 people in one call. Previously, Hangouts imposed a limit of 10 connections. Meet was quietly launched – without Hangouts branding – earlier this month and Google has now made the app official.
Hangouts Chat
Hangouts Chat
Google
It's part of the company's G Suite line of business apps and is focused on making video calls easier to setup. It connects with other services, such as email and calendar, to let you schedule and join calls wherever you are. There's also support for joining from a link or dial-in phone number, letting you securely distribute connection details to external clients.
Hangouts Chat
Chat takes Hangouts' old messaging component into a new app. As with Allo and Duo, Google has decided to separate its communication concerns, letting it focus on calling in one app and texting in another. Only time will tell how this approach pays off, but so far it's not looking promising on the consumer side.
Hangouts Chat takes a project-focused approach to messaging, letting you create threads to discuss tasks with other team members. Each project gets a "virtual room" including a threaded conversation view and integration with G Suite that surfaces relevant documents and photos. A built-in search feature lets you find older messages from anyone in the thread.
Hangouts Chat
Hangouts Chat
Google
Chat comes with bot support, letting external services add their own integrations to the app. Google already has some notable partners on-board, including Asana, Box and Zendesk. It's a long way behind the bot platforms built into Skype and Facebook Messenger though, with the former already a popular business platform and the latter now aiming to grow into enterprises.
One bot is included from installation, Google's new "@meet." It uses natural language processing to automatically arrange meetings that are convenient for everyone in your team. The appointment will then be added to all the participants' calendars.
Hangouts - not for hanging out
With these new apps, Google has completely moved away from the original premise of Hangouts. It's no longer the place to go for communication with friends or family, instead being pitched as a rival to the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams. Confusingly, Google's still insisting that the consumer version of Hangouts is "not going anywhere" though, comments that directly contradict Hangouts' new focus.
Screen capture of the Google meet landing page on 01/03/2017
Screen capture of the Google meet landing page on 01/03/2017
Google
There are currently three Hangouts apps in existence, the original for-consumers-but-being-abandoned Hangouts and the new Hangouts Meet and Chat. There's also Allo and Duo, Google's new basic consumer apps which have been given a decidedly frosty reception. Adding to the quagmire is the recently relaunched Google Voice and Android's Messages app.
Google still hasn't explained how it's going to pitch its messaging products going forward. With its own statements going against each other, it's hard to predict the company's next move.
Consumers haven't been enthralled by the idea of using the bare-bones Allo over Hangouts and the idea of split video calling and messaging apps also remains controversial. Hangouts Meet and Chat may be compelling enterprise offerings but they don’t help to avoid a potential branding disaster.
More about Google, google hangouts, hangouts meet, hangouts chat, Hangouts
 
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