The G Suite-focused communications app, Google Chat, will soon support contact with all google users outside of any domain. That's based on recent reports detailing the incoming feature, set to begin rolling out on May 26.
For clarity, the new feature effectively allows enterprise and G Suite users to contact Google account-holders outside of the business. Typically, Google Chat has been locked down as an internal communication tool as part of the shutdown of the search giant's Hangouts app. Now, Chat users will be able to send messages to any Google user, as long as they have a Google account.
That paves the way for communications specifically via Gmail but also with users of any Google service. That means it could prove an effective communication tool for any number of purposes.
The new Google Chat feature does come with requirements
Once a chat is started, Google Chat users will see users that are outside of their domain marked as "external" in the UI. But that doesn't mean just anybody can be added to any chat. Rooms will need to be explicitly marked as "External" when they're being created. That setting can't be changed afterward so users will need to create new chats. Otherwise, they won't be able to include external users.
Rooms created prior to the feature's arrival will be locked in as "Internal."
The requirement that participants have an active Google account isn't going anywhere either. Of course, it won't matter if the user has a free Gmail account. Those can still be added. But the invites are sent via Google's other products and users are signed in with those too.
The good news is that the feature will no longer be relegated solely to communications between Chat and Hangouts Classic.
When is Google Chat coming for everybody?
Now, this follows a long string of similar actions taken by Google after it first announced the death of Hangouts. That's supposed to happen this year.
Google decided to kill off Hangouts around the same time it shut down its Google Plus service. Both that social networking site and Hangouts were essentially repositioned as Enterprise and business tools. Hangouts, as it was known to everyday users, became known as Hangouts Classic, and Hangouts Chat was set aside for businesses. Later on, Hangouts Chat was renamed to Google Chat.
The video meeting side of that was shifted to the "Hangouts Meet" branding, in the interim. That's before it was rebranded as Google Meet and then, this month, made available for all Google users.
The latest decision from Google on that front was to join all of the messaging services under the leadership of a single team. And that's good news too since Google has been notoriously bad at keeping consistency in its many messaging applications. At the very least, this could lead to the further consolidation of its apps into a more cohesive experience to compete with Apple's iMessage platform.
The end goal for Google Chat and Meet is that they'll become available for all users, essentially replacing the old Hangouts. So this new move to allow external accounts could be seen as just another step in that direction.