(Pocket-Lint) – Google has had a wide range of video and chat solutions over the years, many shutting down and many overlapping their offerings.
The current selections are Google Meet, Google Hangouts and Google Duo. But which app should you use and what do they each offer? We’re going through the differences to help you make that decision.
Google Meet has changed its name in the last few years to what was formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet. It started out as an enterprise video conferencing solution that Google offered. It is available to all Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) users, that is, businesses or schools that pay for Google services for their users. This is basically Google’s version of Zoom, coming in three levels – Google Meet, Google Workspace Essentials and Google Workspace Enterprise.
However, Google has made Google Meet available to anyone with a Google Account, so it’s free to the public, offering 100 callers without a time limit. You can access it meet.google.com.
Sitting next to Google Chat as part of a communication solution designed for Google Meet business, Google Chat is an alternative to services like Slack. Google Meet and Google Chat are easier to understand when you consider the previous names – Google Hangouts Meet and Google Hangouts Chat. Basically, they are the adult version of Google Hangouts, the consumer solution. You can access the chat chat.google.com.
Recently, Google Meet has been integrated into Gmail, so you can access the service directly through the Mail app.
Google Meet is all about video conferencing. At a free level you get support for up to 100 participants, but at the top enterprise level a livestream has support for 500 participants or 100,000 viewers.
Google is adding functions to make Google Meet more consumer-friendly, adding controls, a gallery view, more advanced screen sharing options, including separate Chrome tabs – although for participants some of these controls are not as granular as controls and screen sharing.
Google pushes the security corner, but says it is encrypted on the transmission and encrypted when stored in Google Drive. It supports video up to 720p and anyone with a Google Account can join Google Meet.
Of supported devices
Google Meet runs on a browser that does not require plug-ins or desktop apps. There are apps for Android and iOS devices. Google says that running in a normal browser makes it more secure.
Google Meet entry location is free for all Google Account holders.
Google Meet is available to Google Workspace users who offer longer meetings and more features, and the price you pay depends on your version of Workspace.
Google Hangouts was announced in 2013, out of Google+ As a tool for interacting with Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat for workspace clients, it was integrated into Gmail and other Google applications, now running without a named Hangouts, although personal Google Account users will still see Hangouts in Gmail. The service can be accessed hangouts.google.com.
Hangouts is about to close soon – many workspace users have moved away from the service (instead of using Chat), individual users are receiving a notification that it will soon be replaced by Google Chat. While it’s still nearby, it remains a free video and chat tool for Google Account holders, allowing them to integrate into Gmail and make desktop calls with or without video.
When Hangouts was once used as an SMS conversation tool, the rise of Messenger – with the support of RCS – saw it emerge as Google’s usual place to “chat”, but Hangouts is still a group chat solution for some people. Works as 6
Hangouts’ application comes primarily from easy integration with other Google products and constant visibility within Gmail, as well as access to sync history across devices, meaning Hangouts can give you synced conversations across multiple devices or platforms.
It supports video calling for up to 10 users, phone calling through the Hangouts Dialer app, and messaging for up to 150 users, all of which can be accessed through the app on a browser or mobile device. Like Apple’s FaceTime, users can be contacted using Hangouts via an email address.
Of supported devices
Hangouts is available through a browser and has apps for Android and iOS
Google Hangouts is free, all you need to sign in is a Google Account
Google Duo was announced in 2016 as the equivalent of Apple’s FaceTime, which was pushed as a person-to-person video calling app. It has a lot more personal feel than Hangouts or Meet 7 You can access Duo On duo.google.com.
Google Duo is gaining popularity as a universal video calling app – supported on both Android and iOS devices (as well as through browsers) – making it an ideal solution for video calling from Android to iPhone instead of FaceTime, although WhatsApp video calling is increasingly popular.
Google Duo lets you make voice or video calls to contacts via phone number or email address. For those who can’t answer these calls, you can leave video messages, which makes it very different from Hangouts and Meets. You have no support for Meet, such as text messaging or screen sharing.
Although it is primarily designed for person-to-person calling, the Duo will support groups of up to 12 people. There’s a low light mode that will boost your video using AI, and Google Duo has announced a new video codec to improve video call quality. It also supports AR functions for callers to use
The Duo also has a feature called Knock Knock, where your video is shown to the caller when the phone rings. It’s like having someone at your door.
Of supported devices
Google Duo is available in one browser and Android and iOS apps.
Google Duo is free, all you need is a Google Account
Which is best for you?
Although Google seems to have a lot of overlapping products, it’s actually a lot easier when you take a step back. If you want to make video calls to friends from your phone, Google Duo is the way to do it. It’s great for personal communication and fun to use with small group support. Duo goes hand in hand with Messenger, the customer chat solution supports both SMS and RCS.
For a larger group, Google Meet is more sophisticated than Hangouts, and those Google Workspace users will now see that Hangouts has replaced things like Meet Gmail. Although Mitt is not as adept as Zoom, it is evolving rapidly. Google Chat is available to workspace users for team-based messaging, but not designed for consumer use. Google makes Meet available to everyone from May 2020, a much better option than using Hangouts.
The hangout survives but only. With the omission of names from Meet and Chat, Hangouts is now reserved for non-workspace users, i.e. those who have a Google Account. It’s still capable of making group video calls and group chats from one app, but the experience isn’t as refined as other solutions. Although there is no definite date for closing Hangouts, we suspect that this will happen in 2022.
Written by Chris Hall.