Keeping in touch with colleagues, clients and friends in the modern age can now be done via a myriad forms of communication. Voice and video calls, instant messaging, email and text messages. Google Hangouts is an excellent option to cover quite a few of these avenues.
I have used Google Hangouts for one to one video calls as well as presentations and group conference video calls. The quality of the audio/visual is excellent as long as you have a half decent internet connection and there are also some great features that open up options a plenty.
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Social media can play a part for support queries but most businesses do not see social media or their providers as a viable contact form. This may be why Google is pushing the message about how much their Hangouts service has changed and is better than before. Google Hangouts is targeting business users and a case could be made that it might even be helpful for professionals who want to run their business from anywhere.
What is it?
Google Hangouts is both a desktop and now a fully mobile-integrated communications platform for video and voice calls, instant and text messaging and video conferencing.
What does it do?
A couple of years ago, Google decided to consolidate all of its previous, disparate communications apps under this new, completely connected version of Google Hangouts.
As such, you’re able to use Hangouts to chat online in a wide variety of ways: through direct phone calls, VOIP calls, instant messaging, SMS and MMS, video calls and group calls.
Hangouts is now also available across most desktop browsers, as well as mobile and tablet devices (both Android and iOS). And since logging in to your Google account is required to use Hangouts, your chat history will carry over, regardless of whether you’re switching devices while on the move. You can also access Hangouts directly from within your Gmail account to make it easier to directly follow up on e-mails and messages.
With the more comprehensive business packages, you can also run HD video conferences, create live Hangout sessions with guests and share what’s appearing on your screen/monitor over video to help plan and coordinate presentations.
You can now also host a Hangout with people that are non Google Hangout users if you have a Google for Work account, here is an update from Google Partner expert Peter Moriarty How to Host a Hangout with your Non-Google Friends
Who is it for?
Hangouts can be for literally anyone but it is positioning itself to appeal to the business user. Hangouts has the options and flexibility to match to your needs whether you just need a place to stay in touch with your personal contacts or to coordinate various members of a business.
What is free?
Most of the key features of Google Hangouts can be used totally free, though using it to put through phone calls will incur some costs.
You’ll be able to call, VOIP, instant message and text to your heart’s content. The free video conferencing even supports up to ten people on a single call which is quite sufficient for most professional users.
Regardless of what type of user you are or subscription you have, the Hangouts app remains a totally integrated communications package across all of your devices, both desktop and mobile.
You can trial Hangouts for Work free for a limited period.
What are the paid options?
By paying 5 or 10 dollars (depending on the plan) per user per month, you’ll not only get access to the Hangouts for Work app, but the whole Google apps for work package, which includes online documents and spreadsheets, business e-mail addresses, online storage and more.
Paid upgrades specific to Hangouts includes access to HD video conferencing with up to 25 people, screen-sharing capabilities and Live Hangout options, where you’ll be able to invite guests or even the public.
Google hangouts is a free to low cost integrated communications platform that could admirably service a small enterprise and since all the basic functionalities are totally free it could also be beneficial for WFA professionals in helping to manage their mobile office.
Getting Started and More
Go to the Hangouts Help Center if you need help to get started and a step by step guide on how to use the Google Hangout features.
We would love to hear your thoughts…
- Do you use Google Hangouts already?
- What video conference tool do you use?
- Let me know your thoughts in the comments?
Andy spends his time away from the computer cycling or hiking up mountains or catching a wave on his SUP.