G Suite will transition from Hangouts to Hangouts Meet starting in May. Hangouts meeting links will still work during the transition period, but as of late May 2018, when a person who uses G Suite adds conferencing to a Google Calendar event the link will be to Hangouts Meet instead of Hangouts.
Hangouts Meet delivers modern web conferencing that works across Android, iOS, and the desktop Chrome browser. Prominently displayed controls allow you to mute or unmute your microphone, as well as turn your video camera on or off. And built-in chat enables participants to exchange messages during the meeting.
To use Meet, you'll want to install the Hangouts Meet mobile app for Android or iOS. On desktop, Meet works within Chrome. In an email sent to G Suite administrators, Google also noted that "Compatibility with next stable version of Firefox is expected in advance of automatic activation in May and a solution for Internet Explorer and Safari browsers will come in advance of automatic activation with no opt-out." Firefox 60 added compatibility with Meet in late May 2018.
The transition from classic Hangouts to Meet brings several other changes that affect the G Suite conferencing experience. Here are a few tips to help you transition to Hangouts Meet.
1. Call in to join
Hangouts Meet enables people to call a US phone number to join a session. This makes it possible for people without a video camera or the bandwidth necessary for video conferencing to participate. A G Suite administrator must enable this feature: To do this, sign in to the Admin console (admin.google.com) > Apps > G Suite > Google Hangouts > Meet settings > Select "Provide a phone number and PIN for each video meeting."
Google automatically adds call-in information when you add conferencing to a Google Calendar event from a desktop browser. In Chrome on the desktop, select "View Details" to the right of the "Hangouts Meet" indicator to see the phone number and PIN for the session.
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In Google Calendar on iOS, after you invite another person to an event, a "Video call" option appears with a slider. After you save the event, you can see both the Meet code and phone information.
2. Call from within Meet to add a person
From a desktop browser, Hangouts Meet also allows participants to call a US or Canadian phone number to add a person. A G Suite administrator must enable Google Voice for this to work: To do this, sign in to the Admin console (admin.google.com) > Apps > Additional Google services > Google Voice > then with the three-button menu to the right of the words "Google Voice" make sure the feature is either "ON for everyone" or "ON" for specific organizational units you select.
During a Meet session on the desktop, select the meeting name in the lower left. This brings up a menu, from which you can choose "Add someone by phone." Enter a 10 digit number of the person you wish to add, then select the phone icon to call their number.
3. Optimize your video settings
From a desktop browser, you can adjust your video resolution settings. This may help if you have a slower internet connection. During a session, select the three button menu in the lower right corner of your screen, choose "Settings," then select "Network." Adjust either the maximum send resolution, the maximum receive resolution, or both. Of course, you also could turn off video, or call-in.
4. Enterprise edition enhancements
Organizations that use G Suite Enterprise gain three additional benefits as part of the move from classic Hangouts to Hangouts Meet. First, the Enterprise edition adds call-in support for international numbers. The organizer can select a call-in number from many countries, not just the US and Canada. Second, the maximum number of participants in a conference increases from 25 to 50. And third, the Enterprise edition allows the organizer, or other participants from within the same domain, to save the video recording of a Meet conference to Google Drive. (To record a session, select the three button menu in the lower right, then choose "Record meeting.")
In my experience, people I've worked with have learned to use the key features of Hangouts Meet quickly. And people like the ability to call-in and call-out from a conferencing session.
If your organization uses G Suite, have you already deployed the Meet mobile apps? Or, if you're a G Suite admin, have you already switched settings so that all new conferences added in Google Calendar link to Hangouts Meet? What's your experience been using Hangouts Meet so far? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@awolber).
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Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.