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Google announced in March 2017 that it would split Hangouts, its cross-platform messaging service, into two core apps — Hangouts Chat, a Slack-like tool for teams, and Hangouts Meet, a Skype-like videoconferencing application — and that both enterprise G Suite users and consumers would be migrated from classic Hangouts sometime this year. Today, it made progress toward that end.
At its annual Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, Google announced that Hangouts Chat is heading to Gmail. It occupies the lower left section of the Gmail interface, and highlights rooms (which open into full-screen experiences with threads), people, and chatbots.
In related news, Hangouts Meet now has automatic live captions in video meetings, powered by Google’s speech recognition technology. They’re available in English, and dovetail with another new feature rolling out today: live streaming in Meet. Soon, G Suite users will be able to let attendees outside of their organizations view livestreams by listing them as “public,” and Google says that it’s bumping up the maximum number of attendees who can join a meeting from 100 to 250. (If you’re keeping count, that’s on par with Skype for Business’ limit.)
Lastly, Google announced that Google Voice — a telephony suite of call, text messaging, and voicemail services — is graduating from the G Suite Early Adopter Program. Google Voice for G Suite integrates tightly with G Suite apps like Hangouts Meet and Google Calendar, Google said, and provides fine-grain access controls to administrators. Admins can manage individual users, assign phone numbers to employees or entire departments, port phone numbers, and set up call routing functionality. And thanks to machine learning, every Voice user benefits from spam call filtering and voicemail transcription, plus text-to-speech technology that automatically creates call menus in up to nine languages.
Google Voice for G Suite and Hangout Meet automatic live captions are generally available now, while Hangouts Chat in Gmail is available in beta. Public live streaming in Meet and increased meeting participants don’t have release windows yet.
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