Hangouts Chat, Google’s Slack competitor, is now available for all G Suite users

Slack is one of the best-known and most widely used collaborative services around, and as such it’s been inviting increased competition. Some of the bigger players have been making moves recently to compete more directly with Slack; Microsoft Teams for example, looks like it will soon offer a similar subscription-free tool. Google hasn’t ignored Slack either, creating Hangouts Chat as a competitor, and now that tool is generally available.

Hangouts Chat shouldn’t be confused with the older version of Hangouts, which was Google’s chat service until it was deprecated in favor of Google Allo for messaging and Google Duo for video calling. Unlike Hangouts, Hangouts Chat focuses on providing a variety of collaborative tools to help groups work together, such as creating dedicate group workspaces, scheduling meetings, and managing tasks. Of course, it also provides the basic messaging functions that Hangouts provided for individuals.

The tool has been in public preview mode since March 2017, and now it’s rolling out to all users as a core G Suite service. Hangouts Chat is integrated closely with other G Suite apps, including Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and users can use Google’s search function to find any and all information located within the system. Google has also integrated artificial intelligence into the system to make it easier to book conference rooms, search for files, and more.

In addition, there’s also a Hangouts Chat application programming interface (API) that lets developers create add-ins and connections to other services. Chat comes with 25 built-in bots that provide a variety of functionality, including @Drive to alert you to files that are shared with you or accessed by colleagues, and @Meet that helps schedule meetings. Third-party Chat integrations include Xero for accounting, Dialpad, RingCentral, Uberconference, and Vonage for communications, and Lucidchart and Zoom.ai for productivity.

If you’re still using the old Hangouts, then Google assures you that your chats and contacts aren’t being left behind. Hangouts Chat is compatible with the classic version and can access your Hangouts contacts. Hangouts Chat also works with Hangouts Meet, the video collaboration tool that Google introduced directly to the public in early 2017.

Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Movies & TV

Disney Plus: Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming streaming service

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney Plus compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
News

KBIS 2019: LG adds Tovala’s meal platform to its array of smart oven add-ons

LG Electronics USA is launching new partnerships at KBIS 2019, including a new app integration into its smart ovens that will add Tovala's meal delivery and preparation platform. LG also features partnerships with SideChef, Innit, and Drop.
Computing

Google Chrome’s Progressive Web Apps will soon play nicer with Windows 10

Google is adding a capability to the Chrome browser in an upcoming release that will integrate its Progressive Web Apps with notification badges in the system taskbar in Windows 10.
Computing

Microsoft’s Presidents Day Sale cuts price of some Surface laptops by up to $200

It is a great time to save on Windows 10 laptops. Microsoft's retail store is running a sale on some of the best tablets and laptops, cutting pricing by up to $200 on the Surface Laptop 2 and more.
Gaming

Here’s how to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your Xbox One

Online privacy is more important now than it's ever been, and gaming is happening online more than ever before. Here's a quick guide on how to set up a VPN for your Xbox One so you game in safe anonymity.
Computing

New Chrome feature aimed at preventing websites from blocking Incognito Mode

A new Chrome feature will prevent websites from blocking Chrome users as they browse using Incognito Mode. The feature is supposed to fix a known loophole that allows websites to detect and block those using Incognito Mode.
Photography

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Mobile

Need speed? Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon X55, the world’s fastest 5G modem

Qualcomm is preparing for an even faster future: The silicon giant just unveiled a second generation 5G modem for smartphones, promising blistering download speeds as high as 7Gbps.
Mobile

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…
Photography

Luminar’s libraries gain speed, drop need for you to manually import images

Luminar 3 just got a performance boost. Skylum Luminar 3.0.2 has improved speed over December's update, which added the long-promised libraries feature giving editors a Lightroom alternative.