Video conferencing has become a basic need for small and large companies. Most tend to look at Google for options and it has Hangouts that allows users to text and make audio and video calls. To make things a little simpler, or complicated, they decided to launch another video conferencing app called Meet and call it Hangouts Meet. It's a similar name policy that's confusing.
Google Hangouts is more focused and available to everyone with a Google account. Meanwhile, Meet is designed for businesses and enterprise users subscribing to the G Suite family of apps. There are plenty of differences under the hood, even though both are usable to initiate a video call.
Open your favorite browser. If you are signed in to Chrome or Gmail, Hangouts will directly sign you in. The same goes for smartphone apps. The UI is pretty easy on the eyes with contacts on the left and three options to connect with them on the right.
You can chat and make audio and video calls to friends and relatives whom you have added to your Gmail or Contacts app and have Hangouts installed. You can click on the New conversation button to search for contacts. The wallpaper will change every time you refresh the page.
The mobile apps follow suit with a list of contacts on the main screen and a '+' icon to initiate a text or video conversation. Where is the audio call option? You need to open contact to find that. Not sure why they choose to go this weird UI route on mobile apps.
Once you open a conversation, there are other people-centric options like archive, block, create or add to a group, and notifications. There is no way to attach files, even from Google Drive, which surprised me a little. You can send images (device and Drive) or take photos. No audio clips either. But you can send video clips. These are some strange choices.
Overall, Hangouts works well but lacks certain features that you can find in other popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram like attachments and end-to-end encryption.
How Google Hangouts Meet Works
Google Meet or Hangouts Meet is an extension of the same platform but for business users. Meet is a direct Zoom competitor, and it is apparent the moment you launch it.
Meet focuses majorly on HD video conferencing, but also supports audio calls. Most global companies have employees joining from different regions, and Meet supports real-time captions to accommodate everyone. How does it all work?
Create a room and share the meeting code with others via either a click-and-join link or by directly sending the code. Just like Hangouts, the background wallpaper changes randomly but is much nicer to look at, thanks to the Hangouts Canvas Project.
Well, there are plenty of differences under the surface. Meet supports HD calls and was designed with G Suite users in mind. What this means is that you can only connect to a meeting but can't create one if you aren't a G Suite user. Hangouts is available for all Google users including G Suite.
You can schedule a Hangouts meeting but from the Google Calendar app only. That means you have to use that app, whether you prefer using it or not. The same is also true for Meet. I guess Google wants you to use Calendar, which makes sense if you have a G Suite account.
You will see additional options once a meeting has started. Some useful ones are screen sharing and meeting recording for future references. You can also chat with users, but only after a meeting has begun. That is not a messenger app. That's what Hangouts was developed for.
Hangouts is not end-to-end encrypted. However, Google notes that messages are encrypted in transit. That seems just not enough, since other messenger apps like Telegram are focusing on the privacy and security of users. The same is also true for Meet, but Google notes that recordings saved in Google Drive are encrypted.
Google Hangouts support some additional features like adding special effects like hats during calls, status messages, and supports emojis. Meet doesn't and takes a more professional approach.
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Pricing and Platforms
Both Hangouts and Hangouts Meet are available on the web and have mobile apps for both Android and iOS. Hangouts support up to 150 users in conversations and up to 25 in video calls for G Suite users but only 10 for free users.
Meet supports up to 100 participants in G Suite's basic plan, 150 in the business plan, and 250 in the enterprise plan. Note that up to 100,000 users can watch a live stream, which is huge but also needs a very powerful PC and internet connection. Useful for streaming a live event. Free users can only join a meeting but not create and manage one, as we discussed earlier.
Meet Google Hangouts
The distinction is pretty clear once you look at the features. Hangouts is for every person who doesn't want to invest in G Suite apps. It is a regular messenger that lacks several features that you will otherwise find in popular messaging apps. Meet is an enterprise solution purpose-built for holding video conference meetings and is geared towards G Suite subscribers which makes a lot of sense. Why go for another video conferencing app when you are already paying for Meet?
Do you spend a lot of time on video conference calls? Here are some of the best webcams that were built just for that. Click on the link below to find out more.
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