Google Chat: Everything You Need to Know in 2021
Google has announced that it is rebranding G Suite to Google Workspace for business customers. Integral to the Workspace experience is Google Chat, which provides a means of business communications with colleagues in a similar vein as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Mattermost.
What is Google Chat?
Google Chat is a secure communications tool designed to provide easy business communications within the Google Workspace ecosystem.
With Google Chat, teams collaborate via text, build collaborative chat rooms, share documents, deliver presentations, and establish web conferences.
In this post, we look at the following:
- Collaboration options from Google
- Google Chat pricing
- Google Chat integrations
- Is Google Chat right for your organization?
Collaboration Options from Google
When it comes to team collaboration, Google has several important apps in its ecosystem. Here’s a breakdown of how each works.
1 – Google Chat
Google Chat was called Hangouts Chat and worked as a more business-oriented version of the consumer Hangouts. Google Chat expands on the features of the standard version of Hangouts by adding a plethora of team collaboration features and integrations.
How do I use Google chat?
Google Chat is easily accessible in Google Workspace. To access it, use the Google app launcher button in any Workspace application.
The app launcher appears as a gridded set of dots along the upper right-hand side of your screen. Click this grid, and a series of apps, including Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, and Drive, will appear. Chat will typically appear on the second line.
Once selected, a list of people that you can chat with will be populated along the left side of the screen.
It’ll also provide you with data like presence information and whether specific colleagues are online. Click on the name to begin a conversation. Type in the intended message and click the send button, which is shaped like a triangle, to send.
Google Chat has some handy functions. The software uses predictive text options to automate replies. For example, if a coworker says, “Good afternoon,” Google will provide you a list of appropriate answers like, “Hello, how are you?”
Once a chat is established, you share spreadsheets and documents from Google Drive. Any participant will then be able to access the file via Google Docs.
Additionally, adding things like video meeting links is done very quickly through the chat UI. Once placed in chat, Google Chat will provide a clickable meeting for colleagues to use.
What is the difference between Google Chat and Google Hangouts?
According to Google, Chat, “Is an intelligent communication app for teams that takes direct messaging in Google Hangouts and evolves it to reflect the way modern teams talk business.”
As a result, Google Chat is something like the evolution of Hangouts. It grants that same one-on-one communication but expands on it to be more effective in a business setting.
Important features available in Hangouts like read receipts, video and audio conferencing, and image sharing are all available through Chat.
In addition, more robust, collaboration-friendly features also come standard.
- Team Chat Channels: Conversations are converted into rooms in Google Chat. Slack users will find that this is like the channels feature. With rooms, your team will have a central location to share files, delegate tasks, and communicate during a project lifecycle. There are message threads for those looking to delegate individual tasks to specific team members.
- Larger Video Chat Capacities: With Hangouts, you’re limited to 10 attendees, but Chat expands this thanks to its paid structure. With Chat, you’ll have a max of 250 participants for any video chat.
- Google Meet Integration: This is probably one of the better features of Chat. When you want to set up a meeting, you simply tag Google Meet with the meeting attendees. After that, you only need to mention the proposed meeting date, and the calendar appointment is automatically created.
2 – Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a useful tool for smaller businesses that don’t need extensive team collaboration features and need a quick and easy way to communicate. With it, you share images, make audio and video calls, or send links.
How do you use Google Hangouts?
To start a Hangouts chat session, click on a user’s email and click the Hangouts icon or click the camera icon for a video chat. Hangouts is accessed in a similar way to Chat.
Click the Google Apps grid, and Hangouts will display on the list of apps.
Is Google Hangouts free to use?
Google Hangouts is a 100% free-to-use component of a standard Google account, so anyone with a Gmail address has access. Compared to Google Chat, Hangouts is relatively bare-bones – you can’t file share, and video calls have a limit of 10 people.
How many people can be in a Google Hangout?
Google Hangouts allows you to talk with 150 people simultaneously in a single conversation.
3 – Google Meet
Video meetings technically aren’t native to Google Chat.
In fact, the core functionality is simple business chatting.
Still, integration with Google’s meeting solution, Google Meet, is so well integrated into Chat that you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was all the same program.
Google Meet is still its own solution that provides you with the ability to hold HD video conferences and presentations.
Since this is integrated into Google Workspace, as long as you are within the Google ecosystem, it’s easy to start or schedule a meeting.
In fact, in most cases, you’ll have to share a link, so there’s no need for extra plugins, downloads, or any extra steps.
The software is also natively accessible when users are signed in on Chrome. With Meet, you can even share single tabs from the Chrome browser when you’re holding a presentation.
One of the newer features of Google Meet includes the ability to blur your background. This allows you to hold meetings where objects in the background won’t provide any unneeded distractions.
You can also add a virtual background to replace your own background with something more formal or fun.
Meet also has Google Jamboard integration, where you and your team brainstorm using a digital whiteboard.
4 – Google Workspace
If you’ve never heard about Google Workspace, it’s not too surprising because it was only rebranded as Workspace in Q3 2020.
Previously, this was G Suite. And if you have a business email managed through Google, you are a Workspace customer.
In fact, Workspace has more than two billion monthly users – according to Google.
Workspace is designed to bring Google’s entire ecosystem of productivity and workflow apps under a single banner.
All apps are accessible from any Google-related software. This provides a unified experience for anyone looking to streamline processes and limit switching between tabs/applications.
With Workspace, @ tagging someone in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides will provide you with multiple methods to contact that colleague. This includes standard chat, video meetings, and email.
Workspace also bakes in search, which is something you might expect from a Google product. You can filter by project, team member, or app, and it displays results in real-time as you type.
Google Chat pricing
Google Chat, as a component of Google Workspace, is available in all pricing tiers of the parent product.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect as pricing for Workspace:
|Business Starter||Business Standard||Business Plus||Enterprise|
|Monthly Price per user||$6 USD||$12 USD||$18 USD||Pricing not published (Google Sales)|
|Storage||30 GB storage per user||2 TB storage per user||5 TB storage per user||Unlimited|
|Video Meetings||100 participants||150 participants||250 participants||250 participants|
Google Chat integrations
As a product included in Google Workspace, there are several integrations included with Google Chat.
For example, out of the box, the software automatically integrates with solutions like Gmail, Google Forms, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Drive, and Google Docs.
This is designed to reduce task-switching and to create an integrated workspace. With it, you can chat on one side of your screen and video conference on another – all in the same window.
In addition to these out-of-the-box integrations, Chat also will integrate with the popular third-party solutions that your company is using.
For example, there are several REST APIs that developers can use to integrate apps with a user’s mail, calendars, and contacts.
Don’t like Google Calendar? G Suite Sync will allow you to sync your calendar information with Microsoft Outlook.
This is convenient for businesses making the switchover from a Microsoft-based system to a Google-based one.
Is Google Chat right for your organization?
While it’s not as well-known as solutions like Slack or Microsoft Teams, Google Chat is software that streamlines the way your teams communicate.
It’s simple to share information and documents and collaborate with hundreds of colleagues.
It’s an inexpensive option, especially if you’re already a Workspace subscriber.
Keep in mind that using the low-code app development options will increase the price somewhat for those looking to add integrations.
Google has also been expanding features to make it more comparable to industry leaders.
Features like linked previews in various Workplace apps and real-time collaboration on documents within chat rooms, which are features that have been recently announced, will go far towards this goal.
Now is an excellent time to be a Workspace subscriber.
Let us know if you’d like us to add Google Chat interoperability with Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Webex Teams!
(Mio provides interoperability between the major team collaboration software platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Cisco Webex Teams.
If you use more than one team collaboration app and would rather you didn’t have to, click here to learn more about Mio.)