Google first talked about Hangouts Chat last year. It’s a completely redesigned version of Hangouts that appears to be more of a Slack rival than the Hangouts messaging service most Google users are accustomed to. Google has been testing the new service since then as part of an “early adopter” program but it’s done with that now and will start rolling out Hangout Chats to all G Suite users next week.
Hangouts Chat is a completely different service and isn’t meant to replace Hangouts that Google users will still find in their Gmail inbox. It’s meant for businesses and startups that are looking for a cloud-based collaborative messaging service, it’s similar to Slack in that way.
Much like Slack, virtual rooms can be created in Hangouts Chat for different teams in a company. They can also be used to organize tasks or teams around a specific objective. Each virtual room can have up to 8,000 people so the service isn’t just meant for small businesses. Users get direct messaging and threaded conversations as well.
Google will offer Hangouts Chat apps for Android, iOS, macOS and Windows so that users can access the service on the platform that they use the most. There will also be a web interface for accessing the service. There are also a total of 25 bots that interface with other G Suite apps in Hangouts Chat so users can ping @Drive to get updates on shared files and @Meet to schedule meetings.
Google will start rolling out Hangout Chats to G Suite users from next week. It will be up to the companies that use G Suite to decide whether or not they want to enable it for their organization.