Google Chat — formerly known as Hangouts Chat — can now be used as a PWA on desktop platforms. The recently reported move comes with a few advantages and trade-offs. It alleviates the need for users to bother with downloads and hefty installs, while users only need to have Chrome installed to use it. Most importantly, it's always kept up to date alongside Chrome.
Of course, that means that users will always have the latest features. But the frequent and automatic updates will also keep the enterprise communication tool secure.
As another added benefit, the appearance of a PWA means that more users will have access, to begin with. Chrome is available on Mac, Linux, Windows, and Chrome OS machines. The full-sized desktop app for Google Chat is not quite so widely available. With the PWA, the only prerequisite is that Chrome is installed and that users are okay with Google Chat running in its own standalone Chrome window when it's open. That'll work whether the browser is set as the default or not.
"Installing" Google Chat as a PWA is straightforward. Users who have a G Suite account will need to navigate to the Chat website. That's found at the 'chat.google.com' URL. A click on the Settings icon, followed by the "Install Chat app" option will get things going.
Other updates have made Google Chat far more useful even before its PWA arrived
Prior to this change, Google has already been hard at work to make Chat more useful for Enterprise users. Among the most recent updates to the app, for instance, the company made it possible for Google Chat users to chat with Hangouts Classic users.
That didn't arrive alongside any changes to Hangouts Classic. But it does allow businesses and related associates to communicate with customers and partners regardless of which platform they prefer. All that's required is a Gmail address. The move should also step the company closer to phasing out Hangouts entirely.
This app still isn't for everybody
While the addition of a PWA will undoubtedly make Google Chat more useful, it still isn't going to be available for everybody. Rebranded from Hangouts Chat back in April, the app is intended chiefly for Enterprise users. As such, it's limited to use by those who have G Suite accounts rather than personal accounts. The rebrand is a step away from the Hangouts branding, as Google works to consolidate its chat platforms.
Google Chat may, at some point, become available for a wider user base. The company has planned to eliminate all Hangouts apps in the future, including Hangouts Classic. And that's been known for some time now.
That app is still available for a general audience and found in Gmail as well as a standalone app. But the search giant has already replaced that with Google Meet for video calls in the email client. So it's only a matter of time before Hangouts is phased out completely and, presumably, Google Chat and its features are made more widely available.