G Suite, Google’s workplace tool offering, is splitting its Hangouts app in two parts, Hangouts Meet for video chat and Hangouts Chat for regular communication. The new Chat app looks like it’s designed to compete with the likes of Slack.
Similar to Slack, Hangouts Chat displays the list of users on the left, but still has no equivalent of the ‘channels’ feature Slack offers. The chat box itself is also very small, leaving a lot of empty spaces in the interface, and overall needs more features to fully compete with Slack. That said, it should not take much time for Google to add such features, although the company has not provided an upcoming feature list as such.
The chat feature also displays an icon for video calling, which redirects user’s to the new Meet platform. On Meet, users are prompted to enter a hangout name, which opens a video call, where users can invite others. It also features a ‘Jamboard’, essentially a digital whiteboard that allows all call participants to collaborate. As of now, the platform claims it can support around 30 people on a single call.
Interestingly, Google also announced the acquisition of AppBridge Software, a company that helps migrate to Google’s G Suite, just yesterday. Other than Hangouts, G Suite offers businesses and organizations products like Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Calendar, for communication and collaboration.
Note that Google had previously launched a group chat service called Spaces as a separate app on desktop, Android and iOS. It also launched a standalone messaging app Allo and a video calling app named Duo last year. Google is not the only one investing heavily in messaging. Facebook has been bullish about its Messenger platform as well as WhatsApp, and recently started testing business to user chats on both platforms. Microsoft, which owns Skype, had also launched its own enterprise messaging service called Microsoft Teams last year.