Google Hangouts alternatives
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2015 Google Hangouts now allows to make videocalls to those who don't have Google account
Google now allows you to invite “guests” into a Hangouts meeting, even if they don’t have (or don’t want) a Google account. This will make it easier for you to do all your communications, at least on the video conference aspect, through this particular medium. The process has also been made simple and painless (or so we hope). All it would take is for you to invite the guests, and for them to accept through a few taps or so. They will be labeled as “external guests” and Google users will be able to invite them to a Hangouts through Google Calendar. They need to click the external link in the event description, then input their name, preferably not a silly nickname as this is supposed to be a professional conference. After doing those two simple steps, they will now be able to be part of the meeting and chat with you and your other colleagues for the duration of the virtual meeting.
2014 Google Hangouts is available as a standalone Chrome app for Windows and Chromebooks
Google Hangouts users can now chat and make calls from their desktops without opening their browser. Google Hangouts is now a Chrome app for Windows and Chrome OS computers. It can be installed on Mac OS X computers that also have Chrome but isn’t yet fully supported. The app provides all of your active chats on the desktop for easy access. More important though is the support for voice calls through the app, right on your computer. And Google Voice users will benefit from the Voice integration with Hangouts, meaning access to voicemail and the ability to send and receive SMS.
2014 Google Hangouts adds voice calls to mobile app
Google continues to unify its messaging services under one app by adding free voice calling and a number of other Google Voice features to Hangouts. Android users can make free voice calls as soon as they update to the newest version of Hangouts, while web and iOS users will have access to free calls immediately. Hangouts users are also getting access to some Google Voice features: Calls made from within the Hangouts client now feature a user’s Google Voice phone number as caller ID, and calls to that number automatically are being answered through the Hangouts app. Users will also be able to send SMS text messages through Hangouts, and Google Voice voicemail messages will start to show up in Hangouts conversational streams.
2014 Hangouts unlinked from Google+, becomes a part of Google Apps For Business
Until now, you had to have a Google+ account to use Hangouts if you were a Google Apps user. Starting today, that requirement is gone. Anybody with a Google Apps account will now be able to start or join a meeting from their desktop or their dedicated Chromebox for Meetings device. Hangouts is also now coming to Google Apps for Business. While users on Google’s paid accounts could always use Hangouts (assuming their admins allowed it), this change means that Hangouts is now covered by the same SLAs as the rest of Google’s services like Gmail and Drive. Lastly, IT administrators can better manage meetings right from the Google Apps Admin Console with options like remotely starting, muting and ending a meeting.
2014 Google Hangouts will no longer require a plugin for Chrome
Starting next week video conferencing service Google Hangouts will work in Chrome without the need to install any plugin. Other Hangout-compatible browsers (IE/Firefox/etc.) will still need the plugin — but Chrome will now have Hangouts support baked right in. Between the transition to HTML5, new cross-browser protocols like webRTC, and even platforms like Unity trying to go plugin free, it’s going to be really, really hard to convince users to install plugins moving forward — so if your big idea requires one, you’ll want to find another way.