This week Google rolled out new features for Hangouts that will make it easier for professionals to use the video tool in the workplace. Specifically, this update hopes to make the service more appealing for larger enterprises.
Google+ Hangouts is a valuable tool for marketers. For example, it enables one-on-one conversations with a customer, or a live broadcast for a group of fans. You can create product tutorials, offer live sneak-peeks, and even host exciting Q&A sessions with designers, developers, and other company leaders.
The updates announced this week, however, focus on using Google+ Hangouts as an internal tool — meaning that you use the service to hold company meetings, collaboration sessions and brainstorms, and even the unveiling of an alpha product.
To help entice team leaders to adopt the service, Google has added support for the global address list, updated its settings screen, and now offers the same level of support for Hangouts that it does for Google Talk.
With the global address list you can look for and message a particular team member even if that person hasn’t exchanged contact details with you. Just start typing the name of who you’re looking for and Google (with the help of auto-complete) will help you find who you’re looking for.
Settings have also been updated to allow admins the ability to customize which Hangouts features are available to which employees. For example, you can choose to limit Hangouts chat messages to being internal-only or set chat history to off by default.
It’s worth noting that Hangouts doesn’t yet support warnings informing individuals that they’re messaging outside of the domain. So before you start chatting with John Smith, make sure that you’re looking at the Google+ Profile for John Smith, your HR Director and not John Smith, the owner of your local coffee shop.
Last but not least, Google has added 24/7 phone support for Hangouts, matching the support it gives to Google Talk customers. This feature, as well as those mentioned above, are available for companies using Google Apps.