Google has just announced that business users no longer need to have a Google Plus account in order to use Google Hangouts. From this point on, business users only need to have a Google Apps customer account. Google is cutting ties with Google Plus in order to attract more business users to the Hangouts service. This puts Google Hangouts in the same category as other Google apps for businesses like Drive, Gmail, and Docs.
How to Use Hangouts
If you have a Google Apps business account, you can now use Hangouts by simply going to the Apps tab, and selecting Hangouts from the list of options. From there, you can use Hangouts to chat via video with anyone in your company or elsewhere. Google told press this morning that the move made sense for the company, since business users already take advantage of Google apps separately from Google Plus, so the division just made sense.
Google wants businesses to choose using Hangouts over any other video conferencing options. While there are a lot of different conferencing options out there, Google Hangouts does have some advantages over the rest.
Google Hangouts Advantages
There are a lot of different things that can impact the quality of a video conferencing call from what kind of webcam participants are using to the bandwidth available. But, Google Hangouts is a fun alternative to Skype, and it’s one that you may enjoy using if you haven’t checked it out already. Here are some of the things that I like about Google Hangouts.
1. Chatting with multiple people: until very recently, Skype only allowed users to chat with one person at a time. Hangouts, on the other hand, has always allowed up to 9 people to use the conferencing app for free.
2. Ease of use: it’s much simpler to use Hangouts if you aren’t used to downloading and installing apps like Skype. Hangouts is already there, as part of your Google apps, and it’s ready to roll when you are.
3. Integration with other Google apps: that line pretty much says it all – Hangouts effectively integrates with other Google app options.
4. Bigger picture: having used both Hangouts and Skype, I have to say that Hangouts offers a better and bigger picture, which I just happen to like – and it really lets you see what another person looks like close-up.
5. You can see what other participants are doing: here’s another thing that I like about Hangouts. You can see what everyone on the call is doing, even when one person is speaking – this might prompt some people to sit very still during a call, but others might actually be doing something interesting.
6. It’s an alternative to Skype. Why not give it a try? Now that Google Hangouts is no longer part of Google Plus (and you don’t have to have a Plus account), it’s there and available – if Skype annoys you (which it certainly has the ability to do), Plus is waiting in the wings.
Give Google Hangouts a try if you haven’t, and let me know what you think of Google’s video conferencing tool.