Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Changes to Google Chat and Meet are on the way. Here's a look at what's new:


Some of Google's most popular online apps, such as Gmail and Google Docs, are getting new features and an improved user experience, while users' instant messaging apps are being revamped.

You may have heard about Google Chat and Google Workspace and wondered what was going on, and that's precisely what we're here to discuss. In a nutshell, everyone's Google experience is receiving a makeover, and you can start testing it out right now.

Because Google is Google, the changes aren't all that obvious, but the easiest place to start is with Google Chat, the new (but also old) instant messaging tool.

A Look Back at Google's Messaging Apps

If you use a Google app to send instant messages to friends and family, you're probably most familiar with Google Hangouts, which was previously hidden in the corner of Gmail on the web. Hangouts is also accessible as a standalone app on the web and on mobile phones.

Google announced Hangouts Chat (for text) and Hangouts Meet (for video conversations) in 2017, four years after Hangouts was launched: business-focused spin-offs of Hangouts for paying subscribers of G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps.

Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, which were born out of Hangouts, have now been rebranded as Google Chat and Google Meet, and are set to replace Hangouts for both consumers and businesses.

There are a few advantages to Google Chat and Google Meet over Hangouts. Google Conversation is more similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams than iMessage or WhatsApp, with capabilities like file sharing and group chat, while Google Meet is a full-featured video calling service in the Zoom style.

What's Going On Right Now

During the rest of this year, Google will implement two major improvements. For instance, Google Chat and Google Meet are taking the place of Hangouts in the Gmail section on the web, on your phone, and elsewhere. Your prior Hangouts conversations should be carried over, and this is largely a rebranding exercise: Activate Google Chat in Gmail, download the app to your phone, and you can pick up where you left off with Hangouts with Google Chat, right down to individual conversations.

As previously said, there will be some additional features forged during the time these apps were used as corporate products. You'll get new features, such as the ability to @mention contacts on documents or create conversations with numerous threads, but you'll be utilizing them with family and friends instead of coworkers.

Second, and on a similar note, in the coming months, everyone with a Google account will be able to access a more lightweight version of the commercial Workspace package. This is Google giving customers more professional-level tools, similar to Google Chat and Google Meet, with the expectation that they will be utilized for your local PTA meeting, monthly book club, or family reunion.

These improvements will not be huge, but they will be evident. You'll still be able to use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and other Google services as usual, but they'll be more closely linked and built for collaboration and sharing.