In its continuing effort to appeal to enterprise users, Google has announced new team video and messaging capabilities for the Hangouts app in its G Suite productivity platform. It also introduced a new intelligent bot, @meet, to automate the scheduling of chat-based meetings.
Announced during the Google Cloud Next '17 event in San Francisco that ran from March 8 - 10, Hangouts Meet was designed to make it easy for groups of people to quickly launch and join video meetings from wherever they're working. And the new Hangouts Chat app is aimed at enabling easy mobile messaging for enterprise team members on the go.
Beyond the new Hangouts features, Google also unveiled a number of other updates to G Suite. These include enterprise team-focused file-sharing, streaming and storage capabilities for Google Drive, along with add-ons that bring new support for integrating third-party applications into Gmail.
One-Link Access to Video Meetings
"Hangouts Meet is a new video meeting experience with one goal: make joining meetings effortless so that people can be as productive as they are when they're face-to-face," Scott Johnston, director of product management for Hangouts, wrote in a post on the Google G Suite blog. "We've consistently heard from customers about ways we can improve Hangouts, like making it easier to work with external clients or reducing the 'time to start' a meeting to zero."
Johnston said Hangouts Meet allows even large business teams to easily launch video conference meetings through a shared link without the need to download new software or set up new accounts or plugins. Users can dial in from anywhere to enter a meeting with "just a few clicks," he said.
Paid customers of G Suite Enterprise services can also access dedicated dial-in phone numbers for the video meetings they create using Meet, Johnston noted. This will enable out-of-office team members to "feel connected and productive in meetings despite wi-fi or data issues."
Currently only available to some users, Hangouts Meet will be rolled out gradually to all G Suite customers over the next few weeks, Johnston added.
Support for Chat Bots, Gmail Add-Ons
Meanwhile, the new Hangouts Chat app was created to "reflect the way modern teams talk business," Johnston said.
Chat lets users set up dedicated virtual "rooms" for different work projects, so team members can view threaded conversations starting from day one. The app also integrates with other parts of G Suite, enabling participants to view files and documents from Google Drive or Google Docs directly within their chats.
Johnston said Google is working with several companies, including Asana, Box, Prosperworks and Zendesk, to integrate other applications into Hangouts Chat. The chat platform will be able to support a wide range of partner applications, including intelligent bots. Hangouts Chat also has its own bot, @meet, designed to help users automatically schedule meetings via Meet and Google Calendar.
Johnston did not say when Chat will be generally available. However, he noted that customers currently using G Suite can apply to try out the app through Google's early adopter program.
Other G Suite updates include: an enhanced Google Drive with Team Drives and file stream access to cloud-stored content; new Google Vault for Drive administrative tools; the addition of AppBridge reporting and migration tools; and new support for Gmail add-ons. Among the G Suite partner companies already working on Gmail add-ons are Intuit, and ProsperWorks.