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Google Hangouts works well for the solo user needing a simple and free communication tool. It is not for businesses and isn’t the top video conferencing software available. But it’s excellent for personal use, despite lacking the capabilities of competitors like Zoho Meeting and RingCentral Video.
Compare Google Hangouts to The Best Video Conferencing Software
Google Hangouts failed to make our top video conferencing software list. It was created to be a more basic tool, and it’s no match for the top video conferencing tools designed to support businesses of any size. Nonetheless, as a personal communication tool, it is a good one with a lot of advantages, including being free and easy to use.
Two competitors in the video conferencing space are RingCentral and Zoho Meetings, both of which are affordable with excellent features for businesses of almost every size. If you’re looking for a video conferencing tool for your business, it’s important to know the best providers. We’ve tried countless video conferencing tools to compile a list of the best. See all of our top picks here to make an informed decision on what will work best for you.
Google Hangouts: The Good and The Bad
Google Workspace Integration: Like other Google products, Google Hangouts seamlessly integrates with other Google Workspace apps. This is a huge benefit for people who already use other Google apps. Users can pull contacts from Google Contacts and add a phone number with Google Voice. These integrations can save time and gives Google Hangouts a sense of familiarity with Google users.
Contacting Options: Google Hangouts also has instant messaging, voice calling, and video calling. Contact flexibility is essential because video calling is not always preferred. You can use the chat option for quick questions and calls for longer conversations. There is also a hybrid option combining both video calls and chats.
Ease of Use: Anyone even slightly familiar with technology can easily use Google Hangouts. When you want to chat with someone, simply type their name or email address in the search bar and send them an invitation.
To add more people and make it a group chat, you’ll click the plus icon at the top of the chatbox. The photos icon at the bottom right allows users to easily send photos to the group.
For video calls, click the video call button, and a window will pop up. Video call members can also be invited through the search bar. Once a call has begun, users can turn off their cameras or mute microphones with a single click.
There is also in-call messaging, which is using the text feature during a call. This feature is perfect for sharing links, photos, and notes while speaking to others.
Users can invite more people to create group calls, and the screen share option allows all participants to focus on one user’s screen. Screen sharing is perfect for going over step-by-step processes in real-time.
If you don’t want to use your personal cell phone number, you can sign up for a Google Voice phone number. Calls made in the United States are free, but international calls cost money depending on the country.
Mobile Apps: If you need to use this service while away from your desktop, Google Hangouts has your back. It has a mobile app available for iOS and Android. This allows for easy cross-communication between desktop users and mobile app users.
Free Software: If you don’t want to purchase video conferencing software, Google Hangouts may be for you. The tool is free and easily accessible for anyone with a personal Google account.
Unclear Product Offerings: Google offers Google Hangouts, Google Chat, and Google Meet. All are similar product offerings for slightly different uses.
Google Hangouts is geared toward personal consumers and includes chat and video calling. Google Chat is a chat service intended for businesses. Google Meet is a video conferencing service meant for businesses. Google Hangouts is free, and the other two vary depending on a user’s Google Workspace plan.
This confuses potential customers. If Google were to simply combine these into one product with different pricing plans, it would be a much clearer product offering.
Personal Use Only: Google Hangouts is extremely limited because it’s only meant for personal use. While this software is easy to use, it’s also extremely basic. It lacks recording space, business phone systems, and task management features. Businesses needing proper video conferencing software will need to upgrade to Google Meet.
Google Hangouts Pricing and Options
Google Hangouts is completely free to use. Google Meet and Google Chat are similar services meant for businesses and part of paid Google Workspace plans.
While Google Workspace pricing is unclear and unnecessarily complicated, Google Hangouts pricing is straightforward. It has one plan, and it’s free.
Before diving into the different products Google has to offer, it’s important to understand how Google Workspace’s pricing structure works. Most Google apps can be used for free. However, many of these apps have upgrades available when purchasing Google Workspace plans. Confusing, right? Let us simplify this for you.
Apps like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs are free for anyone with a Gmail account to use. To upgrade these apps, you must pay for a Google Workspace plan. Paid Google Workspace plans are meant for businesses, while individual consumers typically use Google’s free app versions.
Google offers a 14-day free trial with Workspace before needing to pay. Its Business Starter plan costs $6 per user per month. It includes business emails, 30 gigabytes of cloud storage per user, and 100 video meeting participants.
The Business Standard plan costs $12 per user per month. Its video meeting participants limit increases to 150 people and allows call recording. This plan comes with two terabytes of cloud storage per user.
The Business Plus plan costs $18 per user per month. It includes enhanced security, five terabytes of cloud storage, and 250 video meeting participants.
Finally, the Enterprise plan has unlimited storage and enhanced customer support. You must contact Google to find out more about this plan’s pricing information.
While Google Workspace’s pricing complexity can cause headaches, it is affordable for the value it brings. We do not like the requirement to pay for enhanced support in the Business Standard and Business Plus plans.
Most people reading this have heard of Gmail or already have a Gmail account. There are over 1.5 billion active Gmail users worldwide. Gmail is Google’s free email service. It has a simple signup process and a sleek layout and includes a mobile app. It also integrates with all Google Workspace apps.
Email inboxes get cluttered, and many people forget to follow up on important emails. Fortunately, Gmail includes helpful reminders at the top of a user’s inbox. Some examples of these are “Received 2 days ago. Reply?” or “Sent 7 days ago. Follow up?”
The Smart Compose Personalization feature creates personalized suggestions depending on a user’s writing style to save time. As far as security is concerned, Gmail has your back. It warns users of suspicious emails and blocks 99.9% of dangerous emails.
It even places an “Ad” logo to highlight advertisements in a user’s inbox. The inbox is separated into a Primary tab, a Social tab, and a Promotions tab for easy organization.
Gmail is an industry leader in the email service space. We recommend Gmail for anyone seeking an easy-to-use service that syncs with Google Workspace apps.
Google Drive is Google’s cloud storage and syncing service. It lets users store, share, and edit files from their desktops, tablets, and computers. In addition to Google Workspace integration, it also connects with third-party apps like Adobe, DocuSign, and Salesforce. It is absolutely top of the line for collaborative documents, forms, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.
Google Drive offers 15 gigabytes of storage space for free. After 15 gigabytes, users will need to pay more for additional storage via Google Workspace plans. Google Drive is one of the leading cloud storage providers in its space, and its free version offers a solid amount of storage.
Google Docs is an intuitive document software that is part of Google Drive. It lets users write, edit, and collaborate on documents. The collaboration tool allows more than one person to edit a document in real-time. Users can share documents with anyone, chat with each other, and add comments. It comes with styling and intelligent editing tools and lets users add images, drawings, and links.
Google Docs isn’t only for typical documents. It has pre-made templates for help with resumes, reports, and meeting agendas. When users aren’t connected to the internet, they can still access their documents from the desktop or mobile app in offline mode.
Google Docs eliminates the need to save documents manually; the documents auto-save to the cloud whenever any change is made. If you make a mistake, you can simply look at previous versions of the document through the version history. Therefore, there is no need to worry about losing the changes.
Google Docs is free to use, and it’s the perfect tool for users who need to collaborate on and save documents. For business use, the app can be upgraded with Google Workspace plans. For people who prefer more traditional document software like Microsoft Word, Google Docs may not be the right fit.
Google Calendar focuses on managing its users’ schedules so that they have more free time. It is primarily used via its mobile app but can be used on a desktop as well. The Schedule View separates it from boring calendars by adding images, color-coding, and maps to events.
When users receive a scheduling email to their Gmail account, it is automatically added to their Google Calendar. This is helpful when receiving flight information, hotel check-in details, or restaurant reservations. The interface lets users see different views of their days, weeks, and months.
Users can invite guests, and events are automatically backed up online. For easy organization, events can also be color-coded.
Like other Google Workspace apps, Google Calendar is free to use. Google Calendar is a simple calendar tool for users who appreciate automatic scheduling features.
Google Chat is an app that helps companies and teams communicate with each other more quickly than with email. It can be used on its own or inside of Gmail.
Users can create a virtual room to keep projects on track and organized and add their team members. These rooms support up to 8,000 users, and Google Chat can be set to 28 different languages.
The search feature lets users find specific bits from previous conversations. Safety is a priority with Google Chat. Google’s anti-abuse measures keep organizations safe, and all data is encrypted at rest and in transit.
Google Chat has more intuitive chat options than Google Hangouts. Unlike Google Hangouts, it can be upgraded through the paid versions of Google Workspace.
Google’s Chat and Hangouts differences can be a little confusing, and we think it’s unnecessary to separate them into two separate tools. As a reminder, Google Hangouts is for smaller-scale use, and Google Chat is for larger businesses.
In addition to Google Chat, there is also Google Meet. Google Meet is geared toward video conferencing. It is free to use but can be upgraded for additional features via Google Workspace plans. While Google Hangouts also has video conferencing, Google Meet’s video conferencing is intended for larger businesses.
Meetings can be started instantly or scheduled on Google Calendar. Google Meet’s free version is nothing special. However, the upgraded versions pack much more value.
Advanced features like breakout rooms, polls, Q&A, and live streaming are included with Google Workspace’s paid plans. These plans also feature hand raising, noise cancellation, meeting recording, and attendance tracking.
The further you upgrade your Google Workspace plan, the more valuable this tool becomes. While this video conferencing software is a step up from Google Hangouts, it’s not one of the best available.
How Google Hangouts Ranks
Google Hangouts does not make our list of top picks because it doesn’t stand up to the top video conferencing tools on the market today due to its limitations. Microsoft Teams can host meetings with up to 10,000 members with 24-hour time limits. Zoho Meeting lets users customize meeting forms with company names, logos, and colors, and Livestorm gives users high-end webinar experiences.
Google Hangouts does none of these, and it’s only meant for personal use. For more information on the best video conferencing software available, check out our article here.
- RingCentral – Best video conferencing software for most businesses
- Zoho Meeting – Best for simple webinars at a budget-friendly price
- Microsoft Teams – Best video conferencing tool for large businesses
- Vectera – Best for branded 1:1 video calls with customers & clients
- Livestorm – Best if you focus heavily on webinars and live events
If you need video conferencing software for your business, steer clear of Google Hangouts. This software is only meant for the individual consumer and lacks many of the features necessary for business use.
Tools like RingCentral, Livestorm, and Microsoft Teams are better options for business users. They have unique tools that tailor to businesses, and Google Hangouts can’t compete. Google Hangouts is a more suitable tool if all you need is a simple free tool for personal use.