Video conferencing has become a necessary form of communication, especially as many people now work remotely or from home. Google has been at the forefront of making digital conferencing easy for all its users (consumers and professionals) by providing a handful of options, including Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Duo, and Google Chat.
Choosing from the many options can be challenging, particularly as many of the apps offer similar functions. Is there any difference between these video tools, or are they unnecessary duplications? Is one developed to phase out the other? This article compares Google Meet vs. Hangouts and shows you some of the major differences between their features to help you choose which one suits you better.
What Is Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is Google’s chat app for anyone with a consumer account. It is a free tool that combines chats and video calls. The software can be accessed at hangouts.google.com or from the Gmail sidebar.
Google Hangouts allows you to chat with anyone for free as long as they have a Google account – whether they have a consumer (free) or premium (paid) account. The app works on most desktop browsers as well as mobile devices, and it is optimized for a more laid-back setting such as chatting up family and friends, or a small team. That is not to say Google Hangouts cannot be used in professional settings. However, Hangouts does not have the feature to reach a wider audience across the globe.
What Is Google Meet?
Google Meet is Google’s premium video conferencing app that comes with G Suite. It was formerly called Google Hangouts Meet. There is a free version of Meet for anyone with a Google account. Unlike Google Hangouts, Meet is more suited for professional settings as it allows for larger participants per meeting.
You can access Google Meet at meet.google.com, from Google Calendar, or by opening the app on Android or iOS. The software integrates perfectly with other apps on Google’s G Suite, making it a convenient tool.
For example, when you launch the Google Meet app, your current meetings, as well as all upcoming meetings, are displayed on the landing page. Google gathers the information from your Google Calendar to help you remember meetings and quickly join in with a simple click.
Google Meet vs. Hangouts: Comparing Major Features
These video tools from Google are both great apps, but they don’t function in exactly the same way (or else, one will be redundant!). Here’s a quick rundown of the differences in how to create and participate in video conferencing in Google Meet vs. Hangouts.
1. Number of Participants per Meeting
Google Hangouts allow a maximum of 25 participants per meeting. On the other hand, Google Meet offers up to ten times that number! With a capacity of up to 250 users participating in a video call and streaming it live to up to 100,000 viewers, Google Meet definitely offers a broader reach. Organizations with branches across the world will find this Meet capability highly useful.
2. Joining Video Meetings
Joining video meetings in Meet and Hangouts can be done using similar methods, including through mobile app, browser, Google Calendar, Gmail, Chromebox, and Chromebase for meetings.
However, with Google Meet, there are two additional and even more straightforward ways to join meetings. You can host and join meetings using URLs and by dialing in with a phone. This means that users with a slow internet connection can access sessions, and participants can join meetings without necessarily being on their computers.
Note that if you are a G Suite user (with premium Meet), you cannot host or join video calls in Hangouts from Gmail or using Google Calendar. You can only do so from the classic Hangouts app or by visiting hangouts.google.com.
3. Viewing Presentations on Mobile Devices
Google Meet and Hangouts both support the sharing of user’s screens (documents, presentations, or browser tabs) with other participants. However, there’s a distinct difference when viewing presentations on a mobile chat app. With Google Meet, presentations on the mobile app are delivered in high-resolution. You can also use the pinch-to-zoom feature. Google Hangouts only shows low-resolution content in the mobile app.
4. Inviting External Participants
With Google Hangouts, external participants will need special permission and invitation to join video meetings. This could be a challenge for many people. Meet eliminates this problem by allowing those without a Google account to join a video conference using a shared link. This is a convenient way for meeting hosts (for example, big companies) to get as many people as possible on a call without jumping through several hoops.
5. Sending Chats during Video Calls
While you can chat away in Google Hangouts, you can only do so through the web. Google Meet, on the other hand, supports chats in video meetings both in the mobile app and browser versions.
6. Recording Meetings
Here’s one more difference to end this Google Meet vs. Hangouts comparison. Meet supports the recording of video meetings to Google Drive. This feature is not available in Google Hangouts.
Although Google Meet vs. Hangouts may sound like a tussle for which app is better, it really is to help you untangle two of Google’s video conferencing tools and decide what works best for you.
Google Hangouts is your best bet if you are looking for a more casual video conferencing tool that you can use for family and close friends. The app is intended to accommodate smaller groups and offers a few exciting video and sound effects in addition to sending text messages.
On the other hand, Google Meet is optimized for communication in professional or business settings. Apart from allowing a higher number of participants, it offers international dial-in access, comprehensive browser support, live streaming, recording of sessions, and adaptive layouts.
As a show of support for the current global pandemic, Google allows all users to make up to 24 hours of free video calls on Google Meet. The offer ends by September 30, 2020, when the calls will be limited to 60 minutes.