Google introduces two new Hangouts services for businesses

Last year, Google introduced Allo and Duo, its new messaging and video chat services. When asked what would happen to Hangouts, the company said that it would be better suited for businesses moving forward, although it wasn't clear what the firm meant by that at the time. Today, Google announced two new Hangouts-branded services, giving us a clearer idea of its business-oriented strategy.

One of the new services is called Hangouts Meet, which is pictured above. Google says that Meet has one goal: "make joining meetings effortless so that people can be as productive as they are when they’re face-to-face."

Hangouts Chat

You can start a meeting by simply sharing a link, and you won't need any "accounts, plugins, downloads, or hassles." People can join the meeting from Calendar, an email invitation, or an "ad-hoc share". For G Suite Enterprise customers, each meeting has a dial-in phone number, so you can join a meeting even if you don't have a data connection.

Next up is Hangouts Chat, which is another competitor to Slack, and Microsoft Teams, which officially launches on March 14. Google says that it's built around the idea of "bringing cross-functional teams together, discussing tasks that need to get done and sharing your work."

The service includes threaded conversations, virtual rooms for each project, and "deep integration" with G Suite, which means that you can share photos, videos, documents, and other content from Google Drive. There's also search functionality, which you can use to find content that dates back to when you started the project.

Chat also supports scripting with Google's App Script, and can integrate with third-party applications. Google says that it's partnering with Asana, Box, Prosperworks, and Zendesk for this.

Indeed, this is a strong enterprise play by Google. Microsoft announced Teams back in November, and Slack and Skype for Business are already incredibly popular among businesses, so it was important for Google to announce its own competitors for these services. Google says that Hangouts Meet is available beginning today, although it will roll out to G Suite customers over the next few weeks. No availability details were provided for Chat, but G Suite customers can apply to try it out through the company's Early Adopter Program.

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