Before the 2018 winter holidays broke in and the business world went silent anticipating the Christmas, we’ve got some loud news from Google. Apparently, the ‘classic’ version of Hangouts will be closed soon, as explicitly confirmed by Scott Johnson, the product lead in G Suite. What we know for sure, though, is that Hangouts users will be eventually transferred to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.
This news seems like a perfect occasion for shedding some light on Google’s messaging platform for teams. Hangouts Chat has a similar functionality with Slack, so it seems reasonable to compare the tools in our team chat wars series.
As you probably know, our team loves exploring different communication apps. Learning about their pros and cons helps us in building Chanty team chat – an easy-to-use, fast and agile Slack-alternative jam-packed with some cool goodies, such as unlimited message history and a built-in task manager. If you are looking for a business communication tool for your team, we encourage you to give Chanty a try and join our community of early adopters.
So here’s a brief comparison of Hangouts Chat to Slack. Have a read.
When compared to Hangouts Chat, Slack seems like an old timer. The tool, introduced by Flickr Cofounder Stewart Butterfield, launched in August 2013 as a slick app for teams able to eliminate their need for email. After 5 years, Slack grew to become one of the highest-valued startups in the world and the fastest-growing enterprise software ever.
Hangouts Chat is a much younger tool. Its early adopter program was introduced in March 2017, while its public release took place in February 2018. As of the end of 2018, Google is constantly adding new features to Hangouts Chat, such as emoji reactions and notification snoozing.
For those of you in a hurry, here’s a brief comparison of Slack and Hangouts Chat:
|Plans||Free (Up to 10k messages, 10 apps & integrations, 1-to-1 video calls)
Standard $6.67 per active user, per month (billed annually)
Plus $12.50 per active user, per month (billed annually)
|Available in G Suite editions:
Basic $5 per user, per month
Business $10 per user, per month
Enterprise $25 per user, per month
|Message history limit||10K messages in Free plan; unlimited in Standard and Plus plans||Not specified|
|Audio/video calls||Unlimited 1:1 voice and video calls in Free plan;
conference calls for up to 15 participants in Paid plans
|Available via Hangouts Meet, the maximum number of users – 25 in Basic and Business plans and 50 in Enterprise plan.|
|Integrations||10 integrations limit in Free plan, 1000+ integrations in paid plans||50+ integrations|
|File storage limit||Free plan: 5GB file storage for a team
Standard plan: 10GB per user
Plus plan: 20GB per user
|Basic G Suite plan provides you with 30GB storage, Business and Enterprise give you unlimited storage|
|Screen sharing||Unavailable in Freemium version, available in Standard and Plus versions||Via Hangouts Meet in all plans|
|Interface color options||Custom sidebar themes||Not specified|
Now let’s explore the tools in more details.
Let’s state the obvious – Hangouts Chat doesn’t have a Freemium version (at least so far) while Slack does. So if you are not ready to empty your pockets for using a team chat tool and you’re choosing between these tools only, your decision is clear.
If you are up to spend some cash, however, consider that Hangouts Chat sits in G Suite. This means you can’t purchase the messaging platform alone – you’ll have to subscribe to a G Suite edition, which means you’ll also be able to use some of its perks, like extended file storage and Hangouts Meet tool.
Here are two tables with pricing and some features provided within different tiers of both tools:
|Free||Search up to 10k messages
Up to 10 apps & integrations
1-to-1 video calls
$6.67 active user/month (billed annually)
Group calls with screen sharing
Guest accounts & shared channel
$12.50 active user/month (billed annually)
|Some business-grade features|
Hangouts Chat (G Suite editions):
$5 per user, per month
Up to 25 users in video and voice calls
$10 USD per user, per month
|Unlimited storage and archiving
Up to 50 users in video and voice calls
advanced search (across content in G Suite)
$25 per user, per month
|Some advanced control and security G Suite features|
The onboarding process in Hangouts Chat and Slack is very similar. Both tools welcome new users with a couple of modal boxes containing basic information to kick up the team chat experience. When already in the workspace, Hangouts Chat and Slack bring in boxes with pointers for introducing the key features.
Hangouts Chat and Slack – have the vertical layouts with two basic panels: the left one is for contacts, bots, and settings and the right one, which is primarily for conversations. Both tools provide also a smaller horizontal panel for search and some other features.
I didn’t find the possibility to customize the workspace in the web version on Hangouts Chat, while it’s certainly possible in Slack.
When it comes to messaging, Hangouts Chat and Slack have many similar features. Both tools have dedicated spaces for group conversations: Rooms in Hangouts Chat and Channels in Slack. You can also send private one-to-one or group messages in either of team chats.
As for the differences, let’s mention the following.
At the same time, when creating a Channel in Slack you can choose whether to make it public or private.
Within this context, Hangouts Chat has no direct analogue of Public Channels in Slack.
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In Hangouts Chat, once you start chatting, you are communicating in a thread (though you might not be aware of it). You can begin a new thread at any time.
In Slack, threads are a specific feature you can use if you like. The Channels are like chatrooms with a single-topic discussion. If a conversation diverges, a thread can appear. But this is not the feature Slack is based on.
Some features are unique for either of tools so far.
E.g. Google brings in its Smart Reply feature. If you’ve used it in your Gmail inbox, you know what to expect. You’ll be offered Smart Reply suggestions to reply with.
In Slack you can create posts within a message and add code snippets. (I didn’t find these features in Hangouts Chat) Slack also has more text formatting options than in the Google’s tool – the prompts appear once you start typing in the message box.
In Hangouts Chat, there are no such prompts. I didn’t even know messages can be actually formatted within the tool until exploring G Suite learning center tips. So unless you know the usual commands for simple text formatting, such as putting an asterisk before and after a text snippet to make it bold, you may not be able to use it.
As you see, messaging features in both tools are somewhat different, so consider your needs carefully when deciding which app suits your team best.
In a word, notification settings are more diverse in Slack than in Hangouts Chat.
First, Slack has keywords and Channel-specific notifications that Hangouts Chat doesn’t have. Also, in Slack, you can adjust time settings for Do Not Disturb mode.
At the same time, Hangouts Chat allows you to fine-tune your notifications for Web, Desktop, Mobile and Email.
Slack wraps up this kind of notifications under ‘When I’m not active on desktop“ section.
When comparing the Freemium version of Slack with the Hangouts Chat in G Suite Basic edition, here are things to note:
In both tools you can specify results within a particular person and channel (room) or file types. However, in Slack only you can search within a particular time period or exclude from the search the channels you are not in.
If someone sent you a document and you forgot its name, but remember, let’s say, its chapter title or just a phrase from it, you can type a text snippet in the search box to find it.
Just to test this feature, I sent to my colleague our ‘50 ways to improve team communication’ e-book in pdf. format. Then I typed the name of the last chapter ‘Thinking outside the box’ to find out whether I can find it via search. And – voila – Slack found it!
In Hangouts Chat, the advanced search options are available within G Suite Business and Enterprise only. Google claims that when upgrading to these editions, you can search across your company’s content in G Suite, from Gmail and Drive to Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, and more. Alas, I didn’t manage to test this feature, as I have the Basic G Suite account.
In a word, Hangouts Chat has much fewer integrations (50+ as of December 2018; no integrations with Zapier so far) than Slack (1000+). So if you are up to start using Google’s messaging platform, make sure it can connect to your most-needed third-party apps.
Just to quickly test integrations, I tried to connect Reminder Bot to both apps. Everything went smoothly. You just follow the commands to connect and manage the service in both tools.
The obvious difference between voice and video meetings in both tools is that no matter which Slack plan you choose, you can invite no more than 15 colleagues to a meeting. Moreover, in the Freemium plan, you’ll be able to make 1-to-1 calls only. When trying to add more people, you’ll get a notification.
In Hangouts Chat, video calls are provided via Hangouts Meet. You can have calls with up to 25 teammates if you have Basic G Suite account and up to 50 if you have Business or Enterprise plans. However, in both tools, you can try to get around this restriction using integrations with third-party voice and video tools.
The second difference is that in Slack you need to push just one button to ring up your colleague. In Hangouts Chat you need to click on ‘add a meeting’ to get a link for your conversation space. By sending it to a room or private conversation you invite your colleagues to join you.
Both – Hangouts Chat and Slack – provide the possibility to chat during the call or switch off the camera or the sound.
In Slack, there’s a fun feature unavailable in Hangouts Meet. You can react with emojis to what your colleague said.
In a word, Slack is richer in features while Hangouts Chat tends to be easier-to-use. But Google’s messenger falls back in functionality.
When deciding which app to choose, consider these points:
Pricing. Unlike Slack, Hangouts Chat has no Freemium version. The lowest price tag is $5 per user, per month – the tier will give you perks of the G Suite Basic edition. Slack’s Standard version starts at $6.67 per active user, per month.
Messaging. The communication in Hangouts Chat is based on threads, while in Slack threaded conversations are just a feature.
Notifications. Notification settings are more diverse in Slack than in Hangouts Chat. However, all the basic preferences are provided by either of platforms.
Search. In both tools, you can search within messages, links and file names. But Slack provides you with search within the content of documents even in the Freemium version, while in Hangouts Chat you can search within G Suite content only if you have Business or Enterprise tier.
Voice and video calls. Slack limits the number of conference members to 15 people. (In the Freemium version only 1-to-1 calls are available). In Hangouts Chat you can invite up to 50 people depending on the G Suite edition you are subscribed to.
If you are still not sure which team chat app to choose, we strongly recommend you to try out Chanty – simple AI-powered team chat. We are well aware of the existing messengers’ pros and cons. We’ve considered them all while building the better business chat – Chanty. Sign up for free and give us a try 😉