Google has quietly launched a new video conferencing application called Meet by Google Hangouts, which is designed for HD video meetings. The web and mobile application appears to be the latest addition to Google’s lineup of business products known as G Suite, though the product page on the G Suite website listed in the app’s description page on the App Store is not yet live. [Update: app pulled.]
The URL meet.google.com, however, is somewhat up-and-running. The site resembles the landing page for Hangouts, but without the options to place a phone call or start a text chat. Instead, Meet’s page lets you enter a meeting code to join a meeting, as well as see those meetings you have scheduled. There does not appear to be a way to schedule a new call from the site as of yet.
Based on the screenshots and the App Store’s detail page, Meet is meant to serve as a business-friendly alternative to Hangouts, the company’s consumer-focused messaging, voice and video chat application.
Like Hangouts, Meet also offers group video calls, not just video chat, but in an expanded capacity.
Where Hangouts is limited to 10 people, Meet says it supports high-def video meetings with up to 30 participants.[gallery ids="1458472,1458473,1458474,1458475"]
It also includes other features aimed at making it easy to access these calls while on the go, including dial-in numbers for those who are traveling, links you can join with just a click, and integration with Gmail and Calendar for G Suite users.
The app’s main screen displays a list of your scheduled meetings, along with other details like time, location, subject, attendees and more. You can click a green “join” button to attend a meeting from your phone, which launches the video chat interface. Buttons let you mute your call or switch off video.
Meanwhile, in large conferences, there’s a main window at the top where you can watch who’s talking, followed by a longer list of participants’ screens, names and emails below.
Dial-in numbers are available only to G Suite Enterprise Edition customers, but that’s the only limitation noted so far.
Google has not yet officially announced Meet’s launch, though it did note a team-friendly version of Hangouts was in the works back in September. However, the app didn’t have the Meet branding back then, nor was it publicly available as Meet is now.
Currently, Meet’s mobile app is live on the iTunes App Store for the time being. Launched yesterday, it has just started ranking in the U.S., at No. 1,177 in the Business category, according to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Its highest rank right now is in Ireland, at No. 375, also in the same category.
Meet’s arrival comes at a time when Google has been refocusing its efforts with regard to Hangouts. The company in January shut down its Google+ Hangouts API, noting in a message to developers that Hangouts was “turning to focus on enterprise use cases.” It also that month bought a startup called Limes Audio, which it said would bolster Google Hangouts voice quality.
As of the time of writing, Meet has not officially replaced Hangouts in the G Suite lineup of products, according to the main webpage for Google’s online business applications found at gsuite.google.com. It’s unclear if Hangouts will eventually be shuttered, or if it will remain the consumer-facing version of Google’s video chat service. (Um, besides Duo.)
Google has not responded to requests for comment.
Update: Google pulled the app from the iTunes App Store following our report.