Google’s Hangouts Chat offers publishers an alternative to Slack

Google released Hangouts Chat last week, a service that allows users to message each other privately or in groups, and work together on projects collaboratively. The software was unveiled in March last year, but so far, it has only been available in beta to companies enrolled in Google’s Early Adopter Program. Now, it’s open to all users signed up to G Suite, Google’s software for businesses that includes Gmail, Google Docs, etc.

According to The Verge, Hangouts Chat represents Google’s first serious foray into the business communication arena. For publishers already paying for G Suite tools it will be included for every G Suite subscriber at no extra cost.

It’s also tightly integrated with other G Suite apps. Users will be able to upload items from Drive, work together on Docs, Sheets, or Slides, and hold group video chats in Hangouts Meet.

So how does it differ to Slack, Microsoft Teams and other new-to-market entrants like Stride?

According to TechCrunch, Google is placing strong emphasis on AI. An example is the @Meet bot that helps you schedule meetings and the @Drive bot that keeps you abreast of when files are shared with you or when people request access to one of your own documents.

Google has also built an ecosystem of partners that are integrating with Chat by offering their own bots such as accounting software Xero, Salesforce and Trello.

But it’s Google’s deep pockets and vast resources that make it’s Hangout Chats so enticing – it will ensure it’s machine learning-powered features and deep integrations with popular services can only expand both in terms of quality but also quantity as companies queue up to be involved. Factor in the key point that existing users of Google’s services won’t need to pay extra for it and, for publishers, it’s appears to be a compelling option.

Further reading:

The Verge: Google’s Slack competitor Hangouts Chat is launching for businesses as part of G Suite

Tech Crunch: Hangouts Chat, Google’s Slack competitor, comes out of beta

Ars Technica: To one-up Slack, Google invites workers to hangout, chat in Hangouts Chat