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Home / Our blog / It’s Time to Switch to Hangouts Chat

The need for teams to communicate effectively, internally and externally, is more pressing than ever. This includes finding the right video conferencing tool to carry out meetings and making sure your employees can use instant messaging for faster communication. If you’re using Google Hangouts, now it’s the right time to move to its newly improved version: Hangouts Chat.

Why do I need to move?

In 2013, Google launched Hangouts, an app that combined instant messaging and video conferencing in one place.

However, in 2017, they released a standalone video conferencing tool developed by specialists in order to improve its offering. This product is what we now know as Hangouts Meet (and we’ve just shared some of our top tips to help you get started on it).

What happened with the original chat offering? Well, they’ve replicated their original strategy and, with the help of some specialists, developed Hangouts Chat, focused solely on instant messaging. This way, Google now offers two specialised products that lead their respective areas.

How do I migrate?

Moving from Google Hangouts to Hangouts Chat is really easy. When you switch, your existing conversations will be migrated automatically. However, group hangouts will need to be recreated into new ‘Chat rooms’.

This new feature gives businesses the option to add external parties to a ‘room’, offering employees a much smoother line of communication with clients and customers that are also using G Suite. And, thanks to its versatility, you can create as many different rooms as you want, adding team members either individually or using group accounts. With the latter, room members will update automatically to match the group, making onboarding and offboarding easier.

Finding your Chats

Hangouts Chat can be used in a separate browser tab, within Gmail or even as an app. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can have your instant messages in your browser, pinned to your taskbar or integrated with your emails.

The easiest way to create a standalone window for chat on a Chromebook is by opening chat.google.com > checking the Chrome menu (top right corner) > More tools > Create a shortcut > Tick ‘Open as window’ in the pop-up. This will create a shortcut on your taskbar, which will then open a new window that you can drag and resize as you want.

Regardless of how you decide to use the chat, notifications can be configured globally within the app’s settings feature.

Our top tips

Before you dive into Hangouts Chat, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • As we mentioned above, you can add members to a room via group. With a dynamic membership, all you need to do is update group members and the room will reflect those changes automatically.
  • Every new chat member will be able to read previous messages. It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re adding new colleagues or even external guests and you’d like to keep previous conversations private.
  • Organisations can enable or disable the ability to add external parties.
  • If you’re going to be creating multiple rooms, we recommend having a clear naming convention in place. e.g. External/Internal - Function - Project: Internal - Sales - UK Customers.
  • If you want access on-the-go, you can download the mobile app and use Hangouts Chat as you would on your laptop.

You can learn more about Hangouts Chat in the G Suite learning centre. If you’d like to enable smarter communication using Hangouts Chat or need a hand migrating your organisation from Google Hangouts, let us know. Our remote working experts are here to help.

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