Say what you want about Google+, but it incubated two great products at Google: Hangouts for video meetings and Google+ Photos. While Photos is still deeply integrated with the social network, Hangouts is starting to grow up and it’s shedding some of its Google+ past today.
Update: Google had given us early access to its blog post about today’s announcement. In it, the company specifically referenced that anybody with a “Google account” could now use Hangouts with needing a Google+ profile. The final copy of the blog post changed that language to “any Google Apps customer account.” We regret the error.
Until now, you had to have a Google+ account to use Hangouts if you were a Google Apps user. Starting today, that requirement is gone. Anybody with a Google Apps account will now be able to start or join a meeting from their desktop or their dedicated Chromebox for Meetings device. For now, however, the requirement is still in place on mobile, but Google says that’s going away soon, too. The only other restriction for those who want to use Hangouts without a Google+ account is that they won’t be able to use Hangout apps other than Screenshare or Chat and that they won’t be able to use Hangouts on Air to broadcast their chats to a larger audience.