How to Use Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a cloud-based messaging and video chat application developed by Google. It started as a feature of Google+ but became a standalone product in 2013 when features such as Google+ Messenger and Google Talk were integrated into the application. Hangouts is now part of the G Suite line of products and is available to anyone for free with an or email address.

Google Hangouts Features

  • Instant messaging with emoji, images, video, and GIF-sharing capabilities
  • Group chats of up to 150 people
  • Voice calls
  • HD video calls
  • HD group video calls (up to 25 people)
  • Video muting abilities
  • Compatibility with many platforms (iOS, Android)
  • Screen sharing
  • Integrations with other Google applications
  • Supported on web browsers and has a Chrome extension

Google Hangouts vs. Google Chat vs. Google Meet

With the various similar products Google offers, it can be difficult to untangle one from another. Here are some main differences that set Google Hangouts apart from Google Chat and Google Meet.

Similar to Zoom, Google Meet is a video communication tool. It’s best suited for large video calls as it can support up to 250 participants and 100,000 live stream viewers. Users can book a meeting ahead of time with Google Chat or Google Calendar. Features include disabling the camera during a video call, muting the microphone, and screen sharing. Google Meet is included in all G Suite accounts.

Similar to Slack, Google Chat is a communication software built for teams that provides direct messages and team chat rooms. It is focused on ongoing conversations within teams. One-on-one chats are also available. Google Chat is deeply integrated with other products within the G Suite, meaning users can share a file from Google Docs or manage appointments with Google Calendar.

In comparison, Google Hangouts can be thought of as a mix of both Google Meet and Google Chat, however it’s best suited for casual video chats with friends and family. 25 people can be added to a video call, and the video view shifts to the person who is talking, so it’s impossible to see everyone at once with a gallery view.

In 2021, Google will transition all Hangout users to Google Chat.


Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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