Google makes Hangouts more enterprise friendly

hangouts icon
Credit: Florence Ion

Hangouts and Chromebox for Meetings get a business-focused update

Google is looking to make your work day a bit more social and is taking its Google Hangouts into the business arena.

The company is trying to make it easier for enterprises to use Hangouts for face-to-face, if not in-person, meetings, according to Clay Bavor, vice president of product management for Google Apps.

The Hangouts feature, which was first introduced as part of Google+, comes to the enterprise as part of a slew of new features for Google Apps for Business customers.

Starting today, even non-Google+ users can use Hangouts at work. Any Google Apps customer can start or join a high-definition video meeting that connects up to 15 participants -- from a computer or Chromebox for Meetings device. Google noted that the same ability will "soon" be available on smartphones and tablets.

"Hangouts is now covered under the same Terms of Service that support our other Google Apps for Business products, like Gmail and Drive," wrote Bayor, in a blog post . "That means we've got your back with 24x7 phone support and a 99.9% guaranteed uptime, as well as ISO27001, SSAE 16/ISAE 4302 and SOC 2 certification. Additional enterprise integration with Google Apps Vault is coming by the end of the year."

Taking Hangouts to the business community is another way for Google to get its foot in the door with enterprises. However, it's also part of the company's effort to push out Chromebox, Google's Chrome OS-based corporate meeting device, to a bigger, and more business-minded, audience.

"In the coming months, we'll be making Chromebox for Meetings work better in rooms of all shapes and sizes," Bayor wrote. "In larger conference rooms, you can connect two displays to one Chromebox for meetings device to see your audience and project a presentation at the same time. And if you've ever wanted a dedicated setup for video meetings for your home, new personal calendar integration means you will be able to easily set up Chromebox for meetings outside the office."

He added that IT administrators can better manage meetings directly from the Google Apps Admin Console, giving them options like remote starting, muting and ending a meeting.

"Google is moving into the enterprise, or at least trying to," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "I know Hangouts was introduced with Google+, but Hangouts is cleaner, more understandable, and more business-friendly, as a stand-alone chat, video-chat, video-conferencing application."

Google is scheduled to hold a Hangout on Aug. 19 to go over the new features.

Google used this video to introduce its update to Chromebox for meetings, while making Hangouts easier to use in the enterprise. (Video: Google)

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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