Dieter Bohn of The Verge reports on some major changes coming soon to Google Hangouts. Google's new strategy for the service aims to make Hangouts a formidable Slack competitor as a team collaboration tool. The changes are focused in two main areas:
- Hangouts Chat will add new group chat rooms, similar to channels found within Slack, but with all the nice Google perks – Docs and Sheets integrations, extensive search tools, and a bot that can look at users' Google Calendars and suggest the best meeting time.
Hangouts Meet is the new name of Hangouts' video functionality, which Google promises will tie up far less processing power than before. Meet will also provide easy methods for adding people to a group call.
Google Hangouts has been having an identity crisis ever since Google tried to relaunch it as an end-all, be-all replacement for Gchat. It’s been ping-ponging between Google Plus, business video chat, Google Voice, Project Fi, SMS, and lord knows what else. Focusing on business chat seems like a better strategy — and thankfully one that doesn’t feel beholden to some other Google product with a dubious future. Hangouts is fully a Google Cloud / G Suite product now, and it will be developed for those users.
Apple added collaboration tools to iWork last year, but otherwise the company has shown no signs of creating its own competitor to Slack. I do wonder, though, how iMessage could potentially evolve in the future to serve many of the needs that tools like Slack currently meet. The user base is already there, and iMessage Apps could provide the extensibility needed to compete with Slack.
The question, however, is not "Could Apple do it?" Instead, it's "Would they want to?" They could very well be content to simply serve as the platform where these competing services live.