Google today announced a Google Hangouts update rolling out this week that lets you add anyone to a video call, even if they don’t have a Google account. Because you no longer have to create an account, joining a video call now takes just one click.
It was technically possible to add someone without an account to Hangouts before today: You just had to call their phone. Now though, you can add anyone to an audio or video call by just sending them a link. This means joining a Hangouts call for users without a Google account, or really anyone who isn’t signed in, no longer requires filling out annoying forms.
Google hopes this will be particularly useful for businesses, which often have to hold meetings over video with external parties (partners, clients, consultants, and so on). “Connect with teammates and get things done, while maintaining the control and security you need in a work environment,” the company said.
The security part is worth calling out. Because the person sending out the link maintains full control over adding, muting, and ejecting participants, nothing is changing in terms of managing a call.
Furthermore, this functionality works with Google Calendar. If you have Google Hangout links set up to be added automatically, all you have to do is send a calendar invite to whoever you want to meet.
Google gives an example:
Say you’re a business about to talk through new product plans with your supplier, and you decide it’d be great to also get the thoughts of a key customer. No problem.
- Invite your external guests with Google Calendar
- They click a link in the event description and fill in their name
- In order to help give you control and security over your meetings, you’ll get a prompt to accept / deny their entry whether you’re using web, mobile or Chromebox for meetings.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because this is really Google’s response to a feature Microsoft added recently. Although it took forever for Skype to add shareable chat links (only last month), they don’t require having a Skype account. Hangouts is just matching that functionality.