Google Hangouts gets new lease of life, should Slack be worried?

10 Mar 2017

Google Hangouts. Image: iJeab/Shutterstock

Slack has emerged as a dominant collaboration tool in the past couple of years, though Google was never going to let that go unchallenged.

Google’s portfolio is as extensive as it is impressive. In Gmail, it has a leading email platform. In Google, it has a leading search engine. In YouTube, it has a leading video-sharing service.

However, there are areas where it is lagging. In terms of social networking, Google Plus is no LinkedIn. And, in terms of collaboration, Hangouts is nothing special.

That said, the latter might be changing. Yesterday, Google revamped its ‘G Suite’ with one notable change: splitting Hangouts in two.

Hangouts Meet is all about video and audio communications – a decent area to try and master. Hangouts Chat, though, is essentially the tech giant’s challenger to Slack.

Hangouts Chat is a team messenger service available on Android, iOS and desktop. Its similarity to Slack lies in the division into rooms, but it boasts a USP in the inclusion of threaded conversations.

Given the way that Google runs its operation, collaboration is on a deep level. Once you share something with a room, everyone has access to it – much like how Google Docs works, and Slack, too.

To help with the service, a range of bots are being integrated. Users have permissions assigned automatically, for example, based on the team that created them.

Searching and filtering, unsurprisingly, are two features that Google is particularly happy to tout.

For Hangouts Meet, video conferences are one of the obvious benefits, with Microsoft’s Skype evidently under attack. Google claims that the tool is lightweight, offering up to 30 participants without slowing down devices.

Google Hangouts. Image: iJeab/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic