Google Hangouts Chat - Features, Pricing, Alternatives, and More
Google’s apps cover almost every part of your work day—and with the new Google Hangouts Chat, there’s now a Google app to tie the gaps between meetings and documents together. Google’s far from a newcomer to the chat space, with the Google Talk instant messaging app built into Gmail for years followed by its highly popular Hangouts video call app that remains the most used part of Google Plus. All that was missing was a way to keep teams chatting about ideas between meetings, something now filled by Hangouts Chat.
At first glance, Hangouts Chat is similar to Slack, HipChat, and other popular team chat apps over the years. One thing that’s become apparent with the increasing popularity of team chat apps is how distracting they can become. It’s easy to get pulled into dozens of random conversations and never actually make decisions on the things you intended to discuss.
Hangouts Chat tries to combat that with a focus on conversations. Each chat room shows previous conversations where you can reply (which puts that conversation back down at the lowest part of the page since it’s the most recently active conversation) along with a button to start a new conversation. If you’re following up on something a team member asked you yesterday, reply. If you have a new idea you want feedback on, start a new conversation. It makes your team a bit more likely to stay on track and not chat about random things.
Then, rooms are private by default. Unlike Slack and many other team chat apps where everyone in the company can search through and join any chat room by default, Hangouts Chat makes you invite your team to any new chat room. That can make it difficult to onboard new people, but also keeps your chats focused on the key contributors. That privacy makes sharing easier, too. Share a link to a Google Docs document, for instance, and Google will automatically adjust that file’s privacy settings to let everyone in the room read that file—something that saves you a step without having to worry about everyone seeing it as you would with other chat apps. And if you need to talk instead, the ever-present Hangouts button lets you jump on a voice or video call with that focused team.
Notifications are also tamed in Hangouts Chat. You’ll get notified by default if someone mentions you or replies to a conversation you started. But each conversation has a bell icon you can click to mute it—and the app’s core notification settings let you pick when you’ll get mobile and email notifications.
With everything in one place, chat ideally makes it easy to find any conversation—but realistically, you’re often searching for a needle in a haystack. Hangouts Chat’s focus on G Suite documents helps. There are search filters to find messages with a Google Docs document or Google Slides presentation, among others, along with Google-powered search. And for an extra productivity boost, there are bots you can use inside team chats or privately to book travel, schedule appointments, find GIFs, and more all from your chat app.
Perhaps the best part if your team already uses G Suite, though, is price. Hangouts Chat is included with any paid G Suite account so if your team already relies on Gmail with your domain for email and Google Docs for documents, your next best team chat app is just a click away for no extra cost.
Learn more in our detailed Google Hangouts Team Chat guide.
Google Hangouts Chat Features
- Chat with your team with conversation-focused private chat rooms
- Jump on a call anytime with integrated Hangouts voice and video calls
- Share Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides documents easily with automatic sharing permissions
- Search through conversations and filter by document type
- Use bots to get work done from chat
- Mute conversations to stay focused
- iOS, Android, and Web apps available
Google Hangouts Chat Pricing
- $5/month per user G Suite Basic plan for core G Suite apps including Hangouts Chat with 30GB storage
- $10/month per user G Suite Business plan for unlimited storage, smart search across apps, retention policies, and audit reports
- $25/month per user G Suite Enterprise plan for data loss prevention, access control, and log analysis