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Google Chat launches as option in Gmail, replacing Hangouts

Google has integrated its Chat messaging application with Gmail to get far more enterprise consumers to use it. But the product continues to be fewer advanced than collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Google formerly postponed programs to pressure enterprises to undertake Chat in place of the more mature messaging application Hangouts. The search giant originally scheduled that transition for Oct 2019 but now would not thrust the switch until late 2020.

This month, even so, Google began letting any shopper swap out Hangouts for Chat within just Gmail. The launch marked the conclude of a closed beta system throughout which a handful of consumers manufactured the shift.

Google also extra to Chat some crucial functions whose absence had been supplying consumers pause. In addition to the Gmail tie-in, Chat now supports messaging with exterior parties that also use Chat.

Chat is far more sophisticated than Hangouts since it supports points like undertaking channels and the means to forward a information to electronic mail. Consumers can also cross-start Google Meet, a video clip conferencing instrument, and Google Voice, a telephony support.

But as a collaboration instrument, Chat isn’t really on par with apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams, mentioned Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research. The product is far more aptly called an fast messaging application than a group collaboration application, he mentioned.

“I see this as definitely just an up grade more than Hangouts,” Lazar mentioned. “It strikes me pretty much as just an improvement to fast messaging, which is exactly where the competitors were being a long time in the past.”

For Google, Gmail continues to be the focal issue of their enterprise communications strategy. In contrast, rival Microsoft has prioritized its Teams application more than Outlook for collaboration.

Google has also struggled with branding. Google Meet and Google Chat were being formerly called Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. That brought about confusion since Google’s client messaging support has long been called Hangouts.

“Google is aware that the naming conference for specifically their chat products had been confusing to say the the very least,” mentioned Wayne Kurtzman, an analyst at IDC.

Google also has an overlapping portfolio of communications apps. In addition to Meet and Hangouts, the two of which provide video clip conferencing, Google provides Duo, a cellular assembly application.

The start of Chat in Gmail arrives shortly immediately after Google extra Meet to the electronic mail sidebar. Google manufactured the product free of charge to contend with Zoom. But the application even now lacks crucial functions like digital backgrounds, breakout rooms and polls.