This week, Google announced in a blog post that the newest addition to G-Suite has officially come out of beta testing and has been widely released for Mac, iOS, PC, and Android. Called Hangouts Chat, the service is a messaging platform created to help teams collaborate easily and efficiently. Much like Slack, it's an ideal communication app for the workplace.

Hangouts chat is a part of Google's core G Suite collection for businesses, meaning that in order to use it you do have to have a paid G Suite account (or, if you're looking to start an account, a business complete with domain name). The cool thing about that, though, is that because the G Suite programs are all interlinked, teams can share and discuss documents, presentations, and other content created with Google all in one cohesive space. Users can upload items from Drive and work together on Docs, Sheets, or Slides as well as start and join online Hangouts meetings. And if you don't have immediate access to the room members, past conversations or shared files you're looking for, you can find them using Google's powerful search.

Do your team members live halfway across the world? What if you have a really large team? No problem. According to Google's blog post, Hangouts Chat currently supports 28 languages, and each room can support up to 8,000 members. And because it's available across multiple platforms, you don't have to be glued to your computer to use it — you can collaborate even when you're out and about.

Perhaps the coolest and most helpful features within Hangouts Chat, however, are the bots. The service comes equipped with 25 bots to help you get the most out of your conversations. There are pretty much bots for everything you'd need, including ones that integrate directly with other G Suite apps. For instance, the Google Drive bot (which lets you know when a file has been shared with you) and the Meet bot (which integrates directly with your Google Calendar to schedule meetings for you when you @mention it with the information). The company also says that many third-party apps have also already built Hangouts Chat bots of their own concerning a myriad of different topics, all of which you can freely utilize:

  • Accounting: Xero
  • Analytics: Statsbot
  • Communications: Dialpad, RingCentral, Uberconference and Vonage
  • CRM: ProsperWorks, Salesforce and Streak
  • Customer Service: Freshdesk
  • File Sharing: Egnyte
  • Human Resources: Disco, Polly and Zenefits
  • Meditation & Mindfulness: Stop, Breathe & Think
  • Productivity: Lucidchart and Zoom.ai
  • Project and task Management: Jira, MeisterTask, Trello and Wrike
  • Travel: Kayak

So, interested in giving Hangouts Chat a try? If you already have a G Suite account, all you have to do is go to the Hangouts Chat page or download the app for your desktop or mobile devices. Chat is compatible with Hangouts, so it'll work with all your existing contacts. If you don't already have a G Suite account, you can sign up or try it free for 14 days by going here. Finally, if you're struggling to get started, you can check out the Google Learning Center for help.

Questions?

What do you think about Hangouts Chat? Would you use it for your business communications? Share in the comments!