Google has released different video conferencing platforms in the past few years. The following platforms all have their unique features and purposes:
In this article, we will compare these three products and help you decide which platform is best for your needs. We’ll also cover how Google plans to consolidate these products.
Let's begin by helping you understand Google Meet and Google Hangouts. Then, we'll reveal the similarities and differences between the two products in terms of features, supported devices, pricing, and more.
Previously called Google Hangouts Meet, Google Meet is a video conferencing platform. Google initially designed it for businesses and organizations to hold online meetings with colleagues and customers. At first, the company provided Meet to businesses using Google Workspace. Google used to call Google Workspace by the name of G Suite.
Google eventually opened up Google Meet as a free service to anyone with an active Google account. You can use it free at meet.google.com for up to 100 attendees. Google Meet is Google's alternative to Zoom.
Google Meet has several features that make it an ideal platform for online meetings:
HD video and audio quality
Meeting recording (on a paid plan)
Integration with Google Calendar
It’s vital to note that the free Google Meet version limits your meetings to 60 minutes. You can upgrade to longer meetings by using a Google Workspace account.
Released in 2013, Google Hangouts became an extension of Google+ at the time. Google designed Hangouts for personal use and built it into Gmail as a chat app. You can get up to 150 people on a Google Hangout chat. However, it only supports up to 25 video call participants.
Here are a few Google Hangouts features:
HD video calls
Group text chats with up to 250 participants
Both Google Meet and Hangouts offer HD video and audio for your meetings. You're able to see and hear your participants clearly on both platforms.
Each platform allows you to share your screen with other meeting participants. This is great for giving presentations or demos during your meetups.
You can invite anyone to a Google Meets meeting by sharing an invitation link. It's possible to do the same thing with Google Hangout attendees. Both platforms also let you invite attendees in Google Calendar. To do so, choose either Google Hangouts or Meet from the video conferencing section inside your Calendar event-creation window.
Both platforms allow users to text chat while on video calls.
You can access Google Meet and Google Hangouts for free.
Ease of use:
The Google Hangouts interface is more limited when compared to Google Meet. You can see only one other attendee's video feed on a Google Hangouts meeting. You'll see the other participants in a thumbnail strip. You can expand a Google Meet presentation to see several participants in a grid form.
Although you can access both platforms for free, you can expand the free limitations of Google Meet by paying for Google Workspace. Here are the pricing details:
Business Starter: $6/user/month
Business Standard: $12/user/month
Business Plus: $18/user/month
Enterprise: Contact Google sales for pricing
Here are the additional Google Meet features unlocked by the three advanced plans:
Business Standard: Up to 150 participants plus recording
Business Plus: Up to 500 participants, recording option, and attendance tracking
Enterprise: Everything in Business Plus with in-domain live streaming added in
Supported operating systems and browsers:
Google Meet offers more flexibility in this area.
You can use Google Meet with these operating systems and browsers:
Ubuntu and Linux
iOS 12.0 and above
Android 5.0 and above
Use Google Hangouts with these browsers and operating systems:
Mac OS X
Ubuntu and Linux
Record meetings: You'll need to choose Google Meet if your organization needs additional flexibility when recording its meetings. Google Hangouts doesn't include a native recording option. Only Google Workspace plans above the Business Standard plan allow for Google Meet recordings.
Auto captions: While Google Hangouts doesn't offer auto-captioning, you can gain this functionality using Google Meet.
Use without Internet: If a participant doesn't have Internet access, they can dial a number to join through a meeting code on Google Meet. Google Hangout requires an Internet connection. To be clear, each Google Hangout participant must open the Hangout web interface using Internet connectivity.
Integrations: Google Meet integrates with many third-party apps and services. For example, you can integrate Google Meet with Zapier, Trello, Airgram, Notion, and Square. Google Hangouts limits you to only integrating with other Google products, such as Google Calendar.
Participant limits: For video conferencing, you can only get 25 people on a Google Hangout. Depending on your Google Workspace plan, you can bring up to 500 participants on a Google Meet video conference call.
Needs: Google Hangouts works best as a personal or casual way to meet with others. Google Meet operates as a solution for business needs.
Let's now compare Google Duo to Google Meet.
Google Duo is a video chat app designed for one-to-one conversations. Google created it as a response to FaceTime from Apple. It works well when using a computer, tablet, laptop, iPhone, or Android device.
You can make one-to-one calls, leave voice or video messages for contacts, and even send notes through the app. Google uses end-to-end encryption to keep all Duo calls and messages private.
Google advertises Duo as a solution for keeping up with personal relationships. The company recommends the app for traveling parents to help tuck in the kids at night. It shows how Google Duo can also help families unite for weekly game nights.
Duo's family mode lets you doodle on video calls. With the doodle option activated, you can use special effects and masks to make family calls fun and surprising. The family mode also prevents accidental hang-ups. Additionally, it hides the mute button so no one goes silent by mistake.
Please note that Google will soon merge Duo into Google Meet. Until Google Duo eventually includes all Google Meet features, let's explore the current similarities and differences between the two products.
Video calls: Both Duo and Google Meet allow you to connect with others via video conference calls.
Pricing: You can access both Google Meet and Google Duo without charge.
Scheduling meetings: You can only schedule a call inside Google Meet.
Ad hoc meetings: Inside Google Duo, you can hop on a call with a contact at a moment's notice. Google Meet requires a more formal scheduling process.
Text features: As a personal solution, Google Duo lets you use email addresses and phone numbers to instantly text message contacts. Google Meet isn't used for this purpose.
The number of participants: You can gather up to 32 people on a Google Duo video call, which is far less than the 100 afforded on the free version of Google Meet.
Screen sharing: Only Google Meet allows screen sharing features.
Webinars: You can create webinars on Google Meet. Google Duo doesn’t include this feature.
Supported operating systems and browsers: Google Duo supports slightly different browsers and operating systems than those mentioned above for Google Meet.
Select one of the use cases below when deciding when to use each of these three Google products.
To hold a video conference with up to 500 participants (with a paid plan)
For business meetings
To record video conferences (on a paid Workspace plan)
When you need extra features like screen sharing or webinars
For personal or casual video conversations with up to 25 participants
To share files with friends
When you need to make voice calls
To leave video messages for contacts
If you primarily use an iPhone or Android device
To make family calls fun with special effects
Google Meet and Hangouts are both video conferencing tools that allow for group calls with up to 100 participants. Google Duo is a simpler one-to-one video calling app best suited for iPhone and Android users. All three of these products are free to use. However, Google Meet offers additional features like recording and larger meetings for a fee.
Important changes are on the way with all three products.
Soon, Google Duo and Google Meet will integrate into one product. No longer will you need to wonder whether you need one or the other. You'll simply open one product and choose to use any of the combined personal or business features.
Google Chat is replacing Google Hangouts. Some people can no longer access the Classic Hangouts option. Google already moved them over to using Google Chat.
Google hopes these consolidated product options will decrease confusion and improve customer productivity.
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.