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March 10, 2017

Google Hangouts, Slack go head to head in messaging

Google Hangouts is to be split into two new messaging services, Chat and Meet.

By Joe Clark

Google Hangouts is to be split up into new messaging services, Chat and Meet.

At the Cloud Next keynote, Google announced a change to its messaging service and a renewed focus on enterprise by splitting the Hangouts service into two. The move has been seen as a challenge to Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Skype.

Hangouts Meet is an audio and video platform, not dissimilar from Skype for Business. The company hopes it will make joining meetings more streamlined, with one click access and up to 30 participants, for when face-to-face is not a viable option.

Scott Johnston, Director, Product Management, Hangouts, said: “We’ve consistently heard from customers about ways we can improve Hangouts, like making it easier to work with external clients or reducing the ‘time to start’ a meeting to zero. That’s why we’ve built Hangouts Meet to have a light, fast interface and smart participant management.”

The other half, Chat, more closely resembles Slack. The team messaging service will provide a unique dial-in number for conference calls, and anyone will be able to join without having to download an app or plugin by generating a shareable web address for the chat.

Meet is already available for use but Chat will be tested in Google’s Early Access program before being released at a later date. The Google Hangouts app is not being discontinued but there’s a distinct possibility that may happen in the future.

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Google explained it’s decision in a blog post and said: “Last year, we talked about doubling down on our enterprise focus for Hangouts and our commitment to building communication tools focused on the way teams work: from anywhere, at anytime. More than half of the workforce will contribute remotely by 2020, so businesses require purpose-built tools to help employees succeed.”

Meet will be gradually rolled out to G suite customers in future and they will be apply for Chat access.

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