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article imageMeet 'Meet' – Google's new video calling service for businesses

By James Walker     Mar 1, 2017 in Technology
Google has launched a new video calling service called Meet by Google. It's part of the company's business line-up and appears to be an alternative to Hangouts. The reasoning behind the launch isn't clear as it further fragments Google's messaging apps.
Google hasn't yet officially announced Meet. However, a functioning version of the website is available as part of Google's G Suite business cloud facility. Spotted by TechCrunch, the app seems to be designed as an enterprise video conferencing solution, replacing Hangouts video as the go-to Google conferencing service.
Hangouts is a consumer-focused app that offers messaging capabilities alongside voice and video calls. However, it is transitioning to being a business service as Google introduces new slimmed-down messaging apps for general users. This makes Meet's introduction more puzzling, since it appears to further confuse Google's already convoluted messaging line-up.
Although one-to-one video chat is available, Meet appears to be heavily focused on conferencing scenarios encountered by enterprises. It will support high-definition video calls with up to 30 people, letting entire teams contribute from different locations. This feature could appeal to companies which have endorsed remote working strategies, allowing entire small businesses to get together in a virtual meeting room. The participant cap is significantly higher than Hangouts' 10-user limit.
Meet also makes it easy to join calls, including ones made by people who aren't necessarily in your company. You can use a code to connect to any public meeting and dial-in to calls while on the go. The latter functionality is currently limited to G Suite customers on the Enterprise plan.
Screen capture of the Google meet landing page on 01/03/2017
Screen capture of the Google meet landing page on 01/03/2017
Meet features built-in integration with other G Suite services including Gmail and Calendar. It can pull email and upcoming appointments into discussions, letting you schedule future calls and refer to past notes. As a corporate video calling app, it rivals services including Slack and Skype for Business, part of Microsoft's Office 365.
With Google yet to officially introduce Meet, its purpose remains vague. It joins a well-stocked collection of Google messaging apps and overlaps with existing products. It is the only service to be exclusive to G Suite though, suggesting it has a more defined target audience than Hangouts.
Hangouts, once popular with consumers and small businesses, is now being left in limbo as Google works out how to tidy up its apps. Last month, Google again said Hangouts would focus on "enterprise use cases." The new fallout caused by the launch of Meet suggests Hangouts could now be dropped entirely though.
Google hasn't responded to media requests for comment on Meet. As of writing, Meet's website and iOS app are available, with the latter beginning to rise up the charts in the "Business" category. The Android app is yet to make an appearance.
More about Google, google meet, google hangouts, Messaging, video calls
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