Companies are increasingly using virtual meeting and chat services, especially in these times of increased home working. Google has its own tools - Google Meet and Google Chat.
These were formally part of Google Hangouts, and if you have the existing Hangouts app you can still use that.
Slack tends to be used by many creative businesses and is the app that kick-started the trend in which businesses now require purpose-built email-banishing tools to help employees communicate. But Microsoft Teams - which works with Office 365 - is now used by 44 million people worldwide. Separately, Facebook also offers Workplace - a mobile and web app that aims to keep team members connected.
As has been seen more recently, employees need services that help them to connect over video, and their chat experience has to be collaborative. So, with that in mind, Google has turned Hangouts into two services, Meet and Chat, which are aimed at bringing teams together.
Here's everything you need to know about Google Chat and Meet.
What are Google Meet and Google Chat?
These services form communications services that enable text, voice, or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group.
They're are built into Gmail, YouTube, and Google Voice, plus there are apps for iOS, Android, and the web. It's essentially a useful and cost-effective collaboration platform for the average person as well as enterprise customers.
Chat is essentially the business counterpart to Google Duo, the consumer video calling app for up to 12 participants.
Google Meet is for group calls and meetings
Google has described Meet as "a video meeting experience with one goal: make joining meetings effortless". The company wanted to improve Hangouts to make it easier and faster for people start and join video conferences. Hangouts Meet has a very light, fast interface and enables you to easy manage up to 30-person meetings. To instigate meetings you need to have a G Suite account (formerly known as Google Apps) but you can join a meeting with any Google account.
Google Chat is for chat communication around teams and projects
Chat is "an intelligent communication app for teams that takes direct messaging in Hangouts and evolves it" says Google. The idea behind it is that teams working on a project should be able to discuss tasks, share work, and more - it's more like Slack, really. Chat offers virtual rooms with threaded conversations and integration with other Google products, like Drive.
How does Google Meet work?
To start your meetings, you'll simply share a link. There will be no accounts, plugins, downloads, or hassles required. People can click on this link from Google Calendar, an email invite, or an ad-hoc share. And if you’re dialing in from a conference room, your laptop, or a dedicated mobile app, it's just a few clicks and you’re in.
Meet offers native, full-screen presenting, which makes it easy to showcase your team’s projects.
G Suite integration
G Suite is Google's package of cloud-based services that can provide your company or school with a new way to work together online. You get a domain name and access to Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and other G Suite services like Meet. For G Suite Enterprise customers, each meeting has a dedicated dial-in phone number.
How does Google Chat work?
Virtual rooms (channels)
Chat features dedicated, virtual rooms for each project your team may have - and they consist of: threaded conversations, so your team can chat and track the progress of the discussion.
As you'd expect, it also has deep integration with G Suite, so you can share content from Drive and Docs, or you can view things like photos and videos directly from a conversation. There's also filterable search so you can search back through old discussions.
Chat is a platform, too, so that means you can expect third-party integrations in the form of bots, which will allow your teams to do more within their conversation. It has already teamed up with companies like Asana, Box, Prosperworks and Zendesk.