- Google is finally releasing Hangouts Chat, its messaging app for business.
- It’s going right up against Microsoft Teams, Cisco Spark, and the $5 billion Silicon Valley startup Slack.
- This is yet another attempt by Google to create a successful messaging platform. However, competition in this space is steep.
On Wednesday, Google is expected to make Hangouts Chat, its long-promised workplace chatroom tool for businesses, available to enterprise users of its G Suite productivity service. Google shared the news in a blog entry.
Hangouts Chat is available from the web browser, or from iOS and Android apps.
The service was first announced almost exactly a year ago, right alongside Hangouts Meet, a videoconferencing tool. Hangouts Meet has been available to the public for months, but Chat has so far only been available to a relative few G Suite customers in the Early Adopter Program.
Now, Hangouts Chat will go right up against some of tech’s biggest guns. $5 billion startup Slack provides what many consider the gold standard in team communication software, while the similar Microsoft Teams is a key part of the Office 365 cloud productivity suite for businesses.
That makes Hangouts Chat both a challenge and an opportunity for Google: If users like it, G Suite could lure away even more Microsoft Office customers. However, all of that competition means Google has its work cut out for it.
Like Slack, Hangouts Chat is built for intra-company communication. Each chatroom can support up to 8,000 members. Google bills integrations with the rest of the G Suite services – including Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Sheets – as key selling points for Hangouts Chat.
Like Slack and Microsoft Teams, Hangouts Chat supports chatbots. It comes with a total of 25 bots built in, including bots to tell you when a Google Drive file is updated, or when you have a Google Calendar appointment. You can also install bots that integrate with outside services, like Atlassian Jira or Salesforce CRM.
While Google is renewing its push for businesses, the company may have its work cut out for it: Its messaging strategy is famously convoluted, with would-be successors to Hangouts like Google Duo and Google Allo largely failing thus far to find an audience.