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Google Hangouts Meet review | TechRadar | #android | #cybersecurity | #informationsecurity


Google Hangouts Meet is a popular video conferencing tool for businesses across industries. Available for Android, iOS, and as a Chrome extension, the platform is a quick way to set up virtual conferences and facilitates calls for up to 250 people.

The platform’s intuitive interface and range of collaborative features make the video conferencing software particularly popular for a number of people. But, is it the right video conferencing software for you?

Read our Google Hangouts Meet video conferencing review to find out.

Plans and pricing

Google Hangouts Meet isn’t a standalone product—it’s part of G Suite, which includes the platform in addition to a range of useful business apps.

G Suite offers three professional plans—Basic ($6 per month with access to Google Hangouts Meet for up to 100 people), Business ($12 per month with access to Google Hangouts Meet for up to 150 people), and Enterprise ($25 per month, with access to Google Hangouts Meet for up to 250 people).

You can access each plan via desktop, Android, and iOS.

G Suite’s various platform icons. (Image credit: Google)

Features and utilities

Google Hangouts Meet is packed full of features that rival those of its competitors. Three areas stand out in particular, though: its mobile conferencing, video chat features, and integrations with other Google apps.

Google Hangouts Meet’s frictionless interface means you can set up a video conference with up to 250 participants simply by sending out an invite link.

The platform is fully optimized for Android and iOS, and its Enterprise plan enables swift dial-in functionality with a dedicated meeting phone number for conversing on the go, even without mobile data.

Google Hangout Meet boasts a range of useful video chat features including a live polling option for real-time decision-making, text-based chat, and file and image-sharing capabilities. Each of these features is geared towards making video conferences as cohesive and productive as possible.

The platform seamlessly synchronizes with G Suite for enhanced connectivity and collaboration. For businesses that rely on frequent video conferences and collaborative meetings, tools such as Google Docs and Calendar are invaluable when it comes to ideas sharing or delivering projects.

If you require video calling for external communications, Google Hangouts Meet also integrates with select external platforms via Google’s Pexip Infinity Platform.

What you see before joining a Google Hangouts Meet video conference. (Image credit: Google )

Setup

Google Hangouts Meet runs directly through a web browser or the dedicated mobile app and requires no third-party access to set up.

Once you’ve committed to your plan, setting up Google Hangouts Meet is a straightforward process.

Whether on a desktop or on a mobile device, it’s possible to start a video call by launching the platform and sending out an access link to participants or by creating an event in Google Calendar and sending out invites to email recipients in your contact lists.

Google Hangouts Meet 4

Setting up video conferencing through Google Calendar. (Image credit: Google)

When a potential participant receives their access link or dial-in number, they can simply click or tap to join the video conference.

Interface and performance

In line with Google’s range of G Suite tools, the Google Hangouts Meet is attractive and intuitive in equal measures.

Clean, minimal, and equipped with clearly labelled commands, the interface makes it easy to get a conversation started at a quick glance. The platform has an interface that is perfect for those in need of video conferencing software for frequent and impromptu virtual communications.

Once you’ve loaded the Google Hangout Meet home screen on your desktop or mobile app, it’s possible to either set up a new call window or enter an existing call with the click of a button. Like most G Suite products, Google Hangouts Meet’s user journey is designed to streamline the user experience (UX). As such, it’s developed to make the video conferencing setup process completely frictionless.

Google Hangouts Meet 5

Google Hangouts Meet’s frictionless video conferencing interface. (Image credit: Google )

In terms of performance, the platform handles conferences with large participant numbers well and despite the very occasional lag, call quality and screen sharing are clear, concise, and reliable across devices.

Google Hangouts Meet is robust and has minimal performance issues, but the platform is more intuitive though its mobile application.

While the mobile version is slick and offers access to the platform’s in-call features with a simple tap or swipe, utilizing some of the same functionality during a desktop conference more labor intensive, taking a little more time to send files or text-based information, for instance.

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Google Hangouts Meet offers worldwide video conferencing. (Image credit: Google)

Security

To ensure the protection of its users, Google Hangout Meet is equipped with a robust mix of security features, including counter-abuse initiatives and secure video encryption.

The platform is also fortified by Google’s brute force attack avoidance features.—measures that prevent malicious entities or hackers from compromising a meeting or conference call. For added security, video conferencing admins have the option to set up call access PIN codes for participants to access a call.

As a part of Google’s global IT infrastructure, the platform is water-tight and developed to incredibly stringent security standards which are upheld by contractual agreements with official bodies (including HIPAA and ISO/IEC) relating to data usage, privacy, transparency, and user safety.

Google Hangouts Meet 7

Google Hangouts Meet’ user support knowledgebase. (Image credit: Google )

Support

Google’s support touchpoints for businesses include an official email contact form, a dedicated telephone line, and social media-based communication options.

However, we were most impressed with its interactive knowledgebase. Its search bar functionality means you can punch in a question or query and it will return a wealth of results that include practical guides on almost every subject imaginable.

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The Google Hangouts Meet launch page. (Image credit: Google)

The competition

One of Hangout Meet’s main competitors is Microsoft Teams. Both providers offer packages that include a range of business-centric tools, with video conferencing forming a key part of the companies’ respective offerings.

Microsoft Teams is equipped with some additional conferencing features including subtitling as well as slightly more extensive instant messaging features. The platform also offers customers slightly lower price points than Google (its Essentials plan is free, Office 365 Business Plan is $5 per month, and its Office365 Premium Plan is $12.50 per month). 

If your business uses Microsoft Office tools, Microsoft Teams will make a logical choice. Otherwise, G Suite, while costing slightly more, offers the best value for money in terms of both scope and functionality.

Final verdict

Overall, we found Google Hangouts Meet to be a reliable and intuitive video conferencing tool.

Its robust performance and frictionless video calling features make it an ideal choice for time-strapped business owners in need of a swift, cost-effective video calling solution.

The desktop version could benefit from some further development to make it a little more intuitive, but for small to medium-sized businesses, Google Hangouts Meet is reliable, easy to run, and price competitive.

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