After months of testing, Google is opening its business messaging platform, Hangouts Chat, to everyone. The Slack-like service for team communication is now open to all of the company’s business customers who use its G Suite services.
Hangouts Chat, first unveiled nearly a year ago, is a lot like Slack in that teams can communicate in group chat and one-to-one messages. It also supports integrations with third-party apps and bots.
Google is a relatively late entrant to the business-messaging software game. At this point, Slack and Microsoft, with its Teams app, both have significant head-starts. But there are a few areas where Google is hoping to differentiate itself from the competition.
By being directly integrated into all the Google services businesses are already using, like Drive and and Google Calendar, Hangouts Chat can streamline tasks like file sharing and scheduling meetings. For example, Google’s meeting-scheduling bot will be able to automatically schedule team meetings based on each person’s calendar.
Google has a total of 25 bots available on Hangouts Chat today — far fewer than the thousands that Slack has — but that number is likely to rise now that the service has reached general availability.
Hangouts Chat is available now to all G Suite users on desktop and iOS and Android in 28 languages.