One resource that we think is often overlooked—even by Google Apps users—is Google Hangouts. As a communication tool its well-rounded offering text, video, and voice chat options.
Besides chat and free voice calling (within the United States), Hangouts is seamless with the rest of Google Apps (most notably Calendar), and you no longer even need a Google+ account to use it. Hangouts has been a staple in our office, both for staying in touch with each other and with our clients, and we’re surprised that more people aren’t taking advantage of it.
It’s easy to treat a messaging app as little more than an appliance, but Hangouts turns the usual messenger on its head, through how smoothly it’s integrated with other Google Apps, especially Calendar and Drive—all the more reason to try it out if you’re already using those applications! This type of integration can seriously streamline your day-to-day workflow. Here are a few ways how:
1) Faster communication
Most recently, Google added a sleek new Hangouts app in Chrome (which means it’s open to users on Windows, Mac, or Chromebooks), to keep your messaging closer to the surface of your browsing, without becoming intrusive. The sidebar version of Hangouts is still available inside a tab of Gmail, but once you’ve tried the app, you’ll never go back.
2) Easier collaboration with automatic video call scheduling
Syncing up schedules to make appointments can be difficult—sometimes it’s just not possible to be in the office at the same time, and phone calls can be seriously limiting, especially when you need to collaborate. Hangouts makes location and distance irrelevant—just create a calendar event, invite your guests, and the event will automatically provide a link to a Hangout call! So simple, even a—nevermind, I won’t go there.
3) Easily searchable chat logs
This feature is really a no-brainer—you can search your chat history straight from the search bar in Gmail! Chat history can be turned off, of course, but we’ve all had those moments where you need to retrace your footsteps to find that one link, or those directions that your colleague passed along via a Hangouts message.
4) Get in touch with any device
Computer, phone, tablet, it doesn’t matter – Hangouts works on all devices. No more setting up conference call numbers and emailing back and forth to get on the same page. Each Google Account also has a dialable number associated with it, and while you do need a data or wifi connection to dial, non-international calls are “almost always free”, compared to Skype’s rates of $2.99/mo or $0.01/minute. To learn more, you should really check out Google’s guide, but it’s seriously invaluable to our support and sales teams.
Now we want to know: what are your favorite features? Why do you use Hangouts?