For years the standard phone call, the face-to-face meetings and all forms of written communication were how businesses interacted and how they communicated with each other. Don’t get me wrong, some businesses still do, but for other’s this seems like a distant memory, as technology these days continue to evolve and just about everything seems to be online.
As our search for the perfect office continues more and more businesses seem to be turning to instant messaging, video conferencing and even weekly or monthly webinars as an additional and sometimes alternative communication platform. Whether it’s cost efficiency, time saving, or just simple and fun, it’s critically important to have ‘great’ communication tools that suit your business, customers and staff. After asking these questions ourselves, the team at untitled™ have explored many methods and solutions, and have found that Google Hangouts really ticks all the boxes for us.
What is Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is a free instant messaging and video chatting platform designed and developed by Google. Officially launching in May 2013, Hangouts encourages users to connect and communicate between two or more users who have access to the service through their Gmail or Google + accounts or by downloading the mobile app which is available for numerous mobile devices.
Bringing your conversations to life, users can instantly chat with other user’s regardless of whether they are online or not, allowing you to send photos, emoji symbols or invite more friends into the discussion. This cool application also allows you to turn any hangout into a live video call with up to 10 friends or if you want to start a voice call direct from your computer.
The existence of Google Hangouts was first unveiled during the annual Google developer’s conference, with the proposal of replacing three similar messaging products that Google had maintained, due to growing competition from rival products such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and iChat. With this in mind, Google acted swiftly incorporating existing products Google Talk, Google + Messenger and the Hangout features from Google + to create Google Hangouts.
With Microsoft completing the buyout in 2011, Skype certainly provides the most competition with over 600 million users’s registered with the service which certainly proves to be the most popular. Like many other instant messaging and video chatting services, Skype is completely free to use video and voice calls with other Skype users. However, to send messages, call mobiles or landlines or to group video chat, you’ll have to start paying a monthly subscription to make the most of all its services.
Originally replacing iChat, next we have Apple’s take on instant messaging and video chatting service, the OS X Mountain Lion. Although Apple’s most successful OS release, it still remains exclusive for Apple Users only, and unlike its competition you also have to pay a fee to download the software. Lastly we have Facebook Messenger, the instant messaging service. Although a free service, it still remains exclusive for Facebook users, although it now supports more mobile devices
Features Ideal for Business?
Like most of its competitors, Google Hangouts is a completely free to download, or even try! There are no restrictions, trial periods or even spam adds so there’s no excuse to at least give it a try. Although only available for current Gmail, Google Apps and Google + account users, it’s simple enough to set up an account and get started.
What makes Google Hangout’s unique from its rivals is that the service is compatible with so many devices, something that certainly provides a stumbling block for competition that’s only exclusive to one or a range of products. Not only is Hangouts available for all computer based devices, but it’s also available for a range of mobile devices such as Android and iOS. The compatibility with so many devices means you can share your business meetings and conference calls with users that are always on the move. Full list of System Requirements.
- Android 2.3+
- iOS 6.1+
- iPhone 4+
- iPad 2+
- iPad Mini
- iPod Touch 4th Generation
With a slick, clean interface, Google Hangouts has an inviting presence encouraging you to immediately chat with friends. With a host of features, Hangouts categorizes your contacts by most and previous interaction including an archive feature so you can scroll through past conversations to pick them up. Don’t panic, if you can’t find a contact for whatever reason, Hangouts also includes search engine functionality meaning you can search a contact by simply typing in a name, contact number or email address.
Already many businesses have started to use video conferencing tools, Skype and Google Hangouts, as an effective way to communicate and conduct seminars, presentations and meetings with employees and potential clients across the globe.
However what separates Hangouts from the competition is that you can select and share your live video call with up to 10 users with HD settings with users capable of joining in from the mobile phones. Not only is this ideal for large meetings, you can also start a phone call right from your computer.
Integrate with Google Products
Just like every other Google service, Hangouts allow all users to contribute in syncing and sharing all documents between those involved. Allowing you to add Google Drive documents, this allows all members involved to contribute and collaborate on existing documents that are automatically saved.
The application also integrates a screen share feature allowing you the ability to give other users permission to see what’s on your computer screen, perfect for pitches and presentations. Lastly Google Calendar allows users to create an event which will sync to everybody’s calendar involved, ideal for scheduling future business meetings.
Hangouts on Air
Taking things one step further, Hangouts have also integrated a neat new feature that allows you to stream and broadcast your live discussions and performances to users or to the world on Google +, your YouTube channel or your website. You’ll also be allowed to edit and post your video once the broadcast has ended.
Although certain business communications will never be replaced, free instant messaging and video chatting platform’s such as Google Hangouts certainly provides food for thought offering alternative platforms of communicating on the move and across the globe. Providing fast, cheap and efficient ways of conducting various meetings, presentations and seminars, not only is it good to interact with employees and potential clients, but it’s also a great opportunity to bring more business in.