Google Hangouts is the "go-to" communication and collaboration solution for many of us. It comes as a part of Google's G Suite, and it help users connect using various communications channels, including text, voice, or video chats. Google Hangouts works as well for individual users and small teams as for corporate environments.
However, there are other options that you might want to consider if you want to find the best solution for your unique business needs.
In this article, we'll examine alternative collaboration and communication software tools based on their strengths and how they compare to Google Hangouts, so you can decide whether they might be a better fit.
Take a look at the graphic below for a quick snapshot of the apps we're comparing to Google Hangouts based on cost, scalability, integrations, and more.
Google Hangouts is included as part of G Suite, and is available for free download. It can also be accessed and used by anyone that has a Gmail account for free, and Hangout to Hangout users can make free voice or video calls to one another, or use it as a messaging app.
Users in the U.S. and Canada can make free voice calls on Android, iOS, and the web. There is a charge for other international users, which varies depending on the country they're calling to. For many countries, it costs 1 cent per minute to call a landline, with a higher rate for calls to mobile phones.
Below is pricing for a full G Suite account, in the event that you want to take advantage of Google's other business offerings, alongside Hangouts:
Basic: $5 per user per month. Includes business email through Gmail, video and voice conferencing, 24/7 support, and 30 GB cloud storage.
Business: $10 per user per month. Includes unlimited cloud storage, smart search across your entire G Suite, audit reports to track user activity, ability to archive chats and emails, and more.
Enterprise: $25 per user per month. Includes data loss prevention for Gmail and Drive, ability to integrate Gmail with compliant third-party archiving tools, enterprise-grade access control with security key enforcement, Gmail log analysis in BigQuery, and Hosted S/MIME for Gmail.
A free trial is available for all three plans.
Glip offers text and video chat features for teams. There are two different pricing plans:
Free: Offers 500 minutes of shared video chat along with unlimited posts, storage, integrations, and guest users.
Standard: $5 per person per month.Offers 1,000 minutes of video chat per person per month and 24/7 premium support, as well as all the features offered by the free plan.
GetApp reviewers remark that Glip is simple to learn and use, and that they are able to start using it immediately after signing up, without extensive training.
Users also give favorable views to the free plan; they like that it comes with unlimited users, posts, and storage. In addition, reviewers have positive feedback for the customer service and features offered by the tool.
Team collaboration with Glip (Source: GetApp.com)
GoToMeeting lets you hold web conferences to collaborate with teammates. There is a free version called GoToMeeting Free, which lets users collaborate with up to three people (through a freely downloadable app) anywhere in the world, using Google's Chrome web browser.
There are also three other pricing plans:
Starter: $24 per month ($19 per month when billed annually) for 10 participants. Includes screen sharing, dial-in conference lines, and HD videoconferencing.
Pro: $36 per month ($29 per month when billed annually) for 50 participants. Includes all features from the Starter plan, as well as drawing tools, recording, personal meeting room, mobile apps, and keyboard and mouse sharing.
Plus: $59 per month ($49 per month when billed annually) for 100 participants. Includes all the features of the Starter and Pro plans, as well as the ability to link conference room equipment directly, directory management, and virtual whiteboard features.
GoToMeeting offers a free trial, and users are notified when the trial period is over.
GetApp reviewers mention the versatility of the software and its user-friendliness combined with the availability of the free version as a plus. Users say that GoToMeeting is ultimately cheaper for the service and the number of users it allows, making it a good solution for businesses of every size.
Desktop video call with screen sharing in GoToMeeting (Source: GetApp.com)
Google Hangouts is suitable for businesses of any size. The maximum number of users that can participate in a Hangouts meeting is 25; beyond that, users can pay for integrations to extend functionalities for web conferencing with a larger group.
G Suite's pricing is also scalable, with three tiers for different business sizes and growing business needs.
Alternative: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams offers collaboration functionality that includes private and group chatting, calling (audio and video), notes, and meetings.
Microsoft Teams is available to Office 365 users, and in the future, it is going to replace Skype for Business. (Though, for now, Microsoft continues to lend its support to Skype for Business.)
Office 365 comes with several pricing plans for individuals and businesses, making this solution scalable. Within the enterprise pricing plans, it offers different pricing plans for small businesses, education, government, nonprofit organizations, etc.
Here's a snap shot of pricing for the Office 365 small business plans that include Microsoft Teams:
Business Essentials: $6 per user per month ($5 per user per month when billed annually). Includes videoconferencing for up to 250 people and is suitable for businesses that need business-class email; other Office applications are not included.
Business Premium: $15 per user per month ($12.50 per user per month when billed annually). Includes videoconferencing for up to 250 people and is suitable for businesses that need business-class email, as well as other Office applications and services.
Chat in Microsoft Teams (Source: GetApp.com)
As of the latest update, The Google+ Hangouts API is no longer supported, so new apps cannot be created. Some of the exceptions where integration is still possible include: Dialpad and RingCentral, which let you dial into a call; collaboration tools such as Slack; and other air broadcasting tools such as Toolbox, Control Room, and Cameraman.
HipChat offers over 100 integrations, as listed on GetApp. Some notable integrations include collaboration tools such as Dropbox; project management apps such as Trello, Asana, and Jira; customer service software such as LiveChat; and social media management apps such as Hootsuite.
Many users on GetApp mention HipChat's ability to integrate well with a good number of other business apps, making it easier to use HipChat with existing systems and other business platforms. Reviewers favorably mention that HipChat's add-ons and integrations allow them to stay up to date with the latest technological advancements.
Google Hangouts is free for individuals with a Gmail account, and it also comes as part of G Suite, so there are plans available to suit businesses of all sizes. It also doesn't require much investment in terms of training employees to get them started with the tool.
According to GetApp user data, 81 percent of G Suite users are organizations with fewer than 200 employees. Companies with one to 10 users make up 38 percent of G Suite users.
Who's usingG Suite, as listed on GetApp (Source: GetApp.com)
Microsoft offers a free browser version of Skype called Skype Meetings. Small businesses can use it for audio and HD videoconferencing with up to 10 participants for the first 60 days. After that, it goes to three users for the free browser version. Skype Meetings offers functions such as screen sharing and PowerPoint integration.
Skype is also available as a free download, and it allows small businesses to hold video meetings with up to 25 people. You can pay extra if you want to make calls to landline and mobile phones.
Skype for Business allows you to connect with 250 people at a time and offers enterprise-level security along with functionality to have online meetings with audio and video.
User profile on Skype (Source: GetApp.com)
On both versions of the mobile app, users can message contacts and make video or voice calls to individuals or groups. Group chats can include up to 150 people, synced across Android, iOS, and browser users.
It's possible to message contacts even when they're offline and call any phone number, even internationally (rates apply). Users must connect their Google Voice account to make phone calls, send SMS texts, and access voicemails in the mobile app.
The Android app is free to download, and it allows users to join or host a meeting, receive notifications when a meeting is about to start, and view presentations, mock-ups, and reports. You can also host video calls, see all scheduled meetings, and join with one click, as well as make phone calls and chat with individuals. Users can access advanced features that are in test phase by joining the beta program.
The iOS app is free to download, but to host or schedule a GoToMeeting session, you'll need a paid account. However, joining a call as a participant is free. iPad users can present documents from the cloud and share files using integrated apps such as Box and Dropbox.
You can also view the presenter's screen and brainstorm as a group with the on-screen highlighter and whiteboard.
GetApp reviewers like the free apps and the fact that they can link their Outlook calendars to receive alerts before a call starts. Users also mention the ease of use and ability to join meetings, share, and discuss easily.
Viewing the presenter's screen in GoToMeeting's mobile app (Source: Google Play)
If you're using Google Hangouts for the first time, G Suite offers a getting started guide in the G Suite Learning Center to help you start a call, screen share with individuals, join a call from the browser, and more.
Google also offers Hangout Tips with information on topics such as giving presentations during video calls, holding video meetings on the go, muting notifications during important meetings, etc. There is also a Hangouts Help Center.
Alternative: RingCentral Office
RingCentral Office is a communication forum that lets users make voice calls, host video meetings, and send text messages. It offers a community forum, RingCentral University, as well as a knowledge base, guides, and videos for user training. It also offers webcasts and white papers to help users understand the product better.
RingCentral Office's mobile browser with help videos (Source: GetApp.com)
To start a Google Hangouts account, all you have to do is sign up for an email account through Gmail. You can download the Hangouts app for free on your Android and iOS devices as well. For Microsoft users transitioning to Google Hangouts, G Suite offers a step-by-step guide.
GoToMeeting is regarded as an easy to use application with a quick and easy setup, according to GetApp Reviewers. It integrates with Outlook as well, so users can seamlessly send email with a meeting link, allowing people to join meetings with one click.
According to GetApp reviewers, Skype is easy to use, and they like that users can call and chat at the same time and also share documents. They remark that the app works well and offers a simple interface, which makes it easy to connect with other meeting participants.
For Hangouts users, the Hangouts Help Forum offers discussions on usability issues and other important findings and updates by community experts, Hangouts team members, and users.
G Suite users have access to phone support, which is available in 14 languages; you just log in to your admin account for verification. G Suite administrators also receive email support (also available in 14 languages), chat support, and an online help center with articles on topics from setup to billing.
Alternative: RingCentral Office
RingCentral Office offers customer support through 24/7 chat. For personalized assistance, users can open a case and monitor its status online.
If users have trouble with online case submission, they can call support for assistance. In addition, the "Ask the Community" forum offers answers to questions by product experts. If users find an unknown issue, the site also offers functionality to check the service status site.
GetApp Reviewers say they find RingCentral Office's customer service to be both patient and helpful.
Alternative: Lync Online (Now called Skype for Business)
Lync Online is a stand-alone product that allows users to communicate through voice calls and instant messaging, just like Google Hangouts. It can be purchased by itself, or as part of the Microsoft 365 suite.
Lync Online has 294 reviews and a 4.31 out of five rating on GetApp. According to GetApp reviewers, the Microsoft 365 suite as a whole integrates well with many applications, especially email and calendar invitations. Users also note the efficiency, effectiveness, and intuitiveness of the software.
Skype announces updates on its blog, making news and information about the app available for all users. For example, the most recent update saw Microsoft's assistant Cortana incorporated into Skype. Cortana suggests replies based on a chat's content to help chatters save time. It also offers a scheduling feature that doesn't require you to leave the chat to schedule an event or meeting.
Regular updates and features on Skype (Source: GetApp.com)
While Google Hangouts is a popular communication and collaboration solution, there are other options that could suit your organization's budget, number of employees, and implementation needs just as well or better. Here's a complete list of email conferencing and instant messaging tools for you to explore.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you've used Google Hangouts, help out other users by leaving a review.