Google has announced an improvement in how customers create group chats using either the Gmail, Hangouts websites or the Google Chrome extension. The improvement will greatly simplify how quickly users can create a group chat conversation and the intention here is to simplify how easy it is to create collaboration conversations – Google is adapting the Hangouts messenger service to make it more suitable for enterprise users. For the Gmail interface, users will notice a new "+" button next to the Hangouts contact list, whereas for the dedicated Hangouts website or the Chrome extension, there is a "New Conversation" button. Clicking here allows users to create the conversation or group, rename it, and of course to add members. Once a group has been named, users can create a short link URL, which can be shared with other users and allow them to quickly and easily join the chat. The ability to add the short link quick share URL was added to Hangouts last year and means that chat administrators don't need to invite users one by one, which for a busy Hangouts user can save a lot of time.
This new feature has been designed to simplify how quickly people can create conversations for collaborative projects, as illustrated by the screen images on Google's blog. The Google Hangouts application has its origins in the Google Talk service and application and has appeared on Android devices for a number of years now. It has also been evolved, with new features being added or removed, such as SMS integration being first introduced and subsequently removed. More recently, Google changed how the Hangouts service integrated with third party applications and is working to improve voice quality too with the acquisition of Limes Audio. Google has also introduced new messaging applications – Messenger for text messages, and last year both Google Allo and Google Duo for an instant messenger service and one to one video calling application respectively. Meanwhile, Google Hangouts can still act as the text messenger application, although less elegantly than Google's bespoke Messenger app. Hangouts' primary feature is that it is an instant messenger service but the software can also handle voice and video calls, including the ability to set up a video conference. Hangouts is also the underlying technology for the Chromebox for Meetings video conferencing device.
The improvements to the Hangouts interface are currently being rolled out across the entire Hangouts user base, and Google's blog states that it will only take three days before everybody has the new feature – if you use Hangouts you should notice the change by the early part of next week.