Google Hangouts is a tool developed by Google as a way to meet both the business and personal communications needs of their users.
In recent years, Hangouts has evolved into two separate platforms, Meet and Chat, and learning the basics of what these platforms offer can help you make the right choice for your business.
Is Google Hangouts still available?
The traditional Google Hangouts service is still functioning, but a transition has started to remove it completely and move users to their other services. However, it still has a few basic features that can meet the needs of businesses, and serves as an introductory point to the rest of the Google communications line-up.
If you’re looking for a Google Hangouts tutorial to see what it might bring to your business, we’re here to help.
We’ll look through what’s possible with Hangouts, as well as Meet, and find out whether Google has the goods to serve your business’ ample communication requirements.
The entire basis of Google’s brand is harmonization, and they want their users to be able to access their whole suite of services with just one login.
Using your Google login, you can head to the Hangouts website at hangouts.google.com or go through your Gmail account and click on the Hangouts logo.
If you don’t already have a Google account, it’s worth getting and completely free, even if you don’t end up using this particular service.
Among the rest of Google’s offerings are services like Chrome, Calendar, Email, Books, and Meet, which has become the most popular choice for business users looking for an all-rounder communications tool. With that in mind, we’ll look at what capabilities Meet and Hangouts have that might entice the everyday business.
Google Hangouts and Meet Features
Google aims to eventually replace Hangouts with two separate services, Meet which is more for business users, and Chat which is a personal communications tool.
If you’re looking predominantly for a business-centered product, here’s a little about what Meet and Hangouts offer.
Google Hangouts serves as the primary messaging function of Google, and you can easily look up people from your contact list or add them by their Gmail address to start chatting.
However, Google is attempting to move people away from Hangouts and towards Chat which is made for this specific type of communication. You’re also able to use the messenger service through Meet but text chat is only enabled during a video call.
Google has disabled the text messaging function from Hangouts, and they are urging users to switch to Google Voice for this feature.
With this platform, you’ll be given a phone number that can be used for text messaging, phone calls, and voicemails, and it will work for international calls as well. For US users only, you can use your existing phone number for Google Voice.
As Google attempts to transition users to Meet and Chat, they are limiting the group chat functions through Hangouts.
Therefore, you’ll only be able to partake in one-on-one conversations with others, so there’s no group option anymore. If you want group text chat, the Chat program is for this, otherwise Meet is best for video and audio group conversations.
Hangouts no longer allows users to make voice calls using the service, as it’s becoming predominantly a text chatting application.
If you want to make a phone call with Google, you will be directed to the Google Voice platform instead. This is a free service that lets you connect with other Google users to make free audio calls via the web browser or downloaded app.
Google Hangouts and Meet both offer video calls, but with Hangouts, you’re limited to 1:1 calls, and Meet can be up to 250 people, depending on the subscription tier you’re in.
In this regard, Google Meet is the better option for business users. If you attempt to make a group video call through Hangouts, it will send the other attendees a Meet link to use, so it does the transition automatically for you.
Webinars With Google Hangouts
Google Meet has replaced Hangouts as the go-to service for hosting webinars, and it’s possible even to host them on their free plan.
Included in this basic plan, you’ll be able to hold an unlimited number of webinars for up to 100 viewers, but for no more than one hour long.
If you want to upgrade to a bigger and better plan that lets you do more, there are two options of Google Workspace Essentials and Google Workspace Enterprise.
The biggest audience they’ll allow for a webinar on the highest tier is just 250 participants though, so if you’re looking for something webinar-specific, there are likely better options out there.
Extra Tips and Tricks
For loyal Google Hangouts users, there’s a bit to do to enable a smooth transition over to Meet or Chat.
To make the journey easier, these are a few tips you might be able to use to help with the change.
Google is allowing its Hangouts users to export all of the data from their previous calls over to meet, but only until July 31, 2021.
If you’ve ever used the service and want to keep a record of what you’ve done on there, it’s important to make use of this service before then, otherwise, they will be deleting all of their users’ data.
Refund of balances
Those who had an active balance on Google Hangouts that was used to make international calls can apply for a refund through Google.
If you’ve purchased credit within the last six months, Google will refund whatever’s left, so if you plan on making the transition away from Hangouts it’s a good idea to do this now.
Google will automatically migrate your previous chats and contacts from Hangouts into Chat.
There’s nothing you need to do yourself for this process, other than familiarize yourself with the Chat program and decide if you want to continue using it.
If you use Google Hangouts as part of your business communication tools, Google offers a “Chat preferred” setting that will help you migrate all of your employees over to Chat.
This setting can be changed through the Admin console only and will ensure that your entire workplace is running through the one chat platform.
Moving away from Google
If the dismantling of Google Hangouts and loss of features means you no longer want to use their products, there are lots of options out there for free and paid communications tools.
Think about what the most basic but important communications features your business needs, whether it’s webinar hosting or remote access, and look for a singular provider that can do it all.
Hangout With Google
Google has an endless supply of free apps and products for people to enjoy, and although Hangouts is evolving and Meet is becoming the new favorite, they have made the transition seamless.
If you want a simple way to make video calls or host webinars, the free and paid plans on Google Meet will help you do just that, and more.
Google Hangouts has become a popular way for people around the world to connect, but it’s just one of many options out there for a telecommunications application.
To find out more about the world of Google’s communications products, we’ve answered some FAQs that can help you learn the basics.
Will Google Hangouts Be Discontinued?
Google has started transitioning users away from Hangouts and onto Meet and Chat, but the service will still be available.
Some functions have been taken away to make way for the other platforms, like not being able to receive voice calls and voicemail, so if you use Hangouts for more of your communications needs, it’s the right time to change over.
Is Google Meet Free?
Google Meet comes in a free version of the product but there are also paid plans for users who want more capabilities.
The paid plans are part of the google Workspace suite which gives you access to not just Meet, but other services like a business Gmail, Sheets, Slides, Docs, Chat, Forms, and Sites, and is designed to be a comprehensive business collection.
What Is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a telephone service that allows users to send text messages, receive voice mails, have phone conversations, screen calls, block numbers, and more.
It operates with your existing US telephone number, and international accounts will be given a dedicated phone number that works with the service. This is a free service for communication between Google users, otherwise, there’s a small fee for other contacts.