Which videoconferencing app should you use

Video conferencing has become a basic need for small and large businesses. Most tend to search for options on Google and it has Hangouts that allow users to send text messages and make audio and video calls. To make things a little simpler or more complicated, they decided to launch another video conferencing application called Meet and call it Hangouts Meet. It’s a similar name policy that is confusing.

Let’s understand what these differences are.

How Google Hangouts Works

Open your preferred browser. If you’re signed in to Chrome or Gmail, Hangouts will sign you in directly. The same goes for smartphone apps. The user interface is quite easy to look at with contacts on the left and three options for connecting with them on the right.

You can chat and make audio and video calls with friends and family who you’ve added to your Gmail or Contacts app and have Hangouts installed. You can click the New Conversation button to search for contacts. The wallpaper changes each time you refresh the page.

Mobile apps follow suit with a contact list on the main screen and a “+” icon to start a text or video conversation. Where is the audio call option? You must open a contact to find it. I don’t know why they choose to follow this strange UI route on mobile apps.

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Once you’ve opened a conversation, there are other people-centric options, such as archiving, blocking, creating or adding to a group, and notifications. There is no way to attach files, even from Google Drive, which surprised me a bit. You can send images (device and Drive) or take photos. No audio clips either. But you can send video clips. These are strange choices.

Overall, Hangouts works well, but it lacks some of the features 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 professional users. Meet is a direct competitor of Zoom, and it is obvious when you launch it.

Meet mainly focuses on HD video conferencing, but also supports audio calls. Most global companies have employees from different regions, and Meet supports real-time captions to fit everyone. How it works?

Create a room and share the meeting code with others via a click-join link or by sending the code directly. Like Hangouts, the wallpaper changes randomly but is much more pleasant to look at, thanks to the Hangouts Canvas project.

Key differences

Well, there are a lot of differences below the surface. Meet supports HD calling and was designed for G Suite users. This means that you can only connect to a meeting, but cannot create one if you are not a G Suite user. Hangouts is available to all Google users, including G Suite.

You can schedule a Hangouts meeting, but only from the Google Calendar app. This means that you should use this app whether you prefer to use it or not. The same goes for Meet. I guess Google wants you to use Google Calendar, which makes sense if you have a G Suite account.

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You will see additional options after the meeting has started. Some useful are screen sharing and recording meetings for future reference. You can also chat with users, but only after a meeting has started. It is not a messaging application. This is why Hangouts was developed.

Hangouts are not encrypted end-to-end. However, Google notes that messages are encrypted in transit. It’s quite strange when other messaging apps like Telegram focus on user privacy and security. The same goes for Meet, but Google notes that the records saved in Google Drive are encrypted.

Google Hangouts supports some additional features such as adding special effects such as hats during calls, status messages and supports emojis. Meet does not do this and takes a more professional approach.

Pricing and platforms

Hangouts and Hangouts Meet are available on the web and have mobile apps for 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 the basic plan of G Suite, 150 in the business plan and 250 in the business plan. Note that up to 100,000 users can watch a live stream, which is huge but also requires a very powerful PC and Internet connection. Useful for broadcasting a live event. Free users can only join a meeting but not create and manage one, as we saw earlier.

Explore Google Hangouts

The distinction is pretty clear once you look at the features. Hangouts is for anyone who doesn’t want to invest in G Suite apps. It is a regular messenger that lacks many of the features that you would otherwise find in popular messaging apps. Meet is an enterprise solution specially designed for holding videoconference meetings and is aimed at G Suite subscribers, which is very logical. Why choose another videoconferencing application when you are already paying for Meet?

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Last updated April 14, 2020


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