Tag Archives: Hangouts

ICYMI in February: here’s what happened in G Suite

While we all tuned in to see who would win gold at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, our teams multitasked and brought new updates to G Suite. Here’s a look at what happened in February (and okay, a final list of Olympic winners, too.).

We announced even more intelligent, connected tools

We can’t say it enough. To stay competitive, your business can’t afford to rely on decades-old legacy systems. SaaS tools—ahem, G Suite—make it easier for you to align teams, make decisions faster and to skip repetitive, manual tasks. And even better: you can do it all from one place.

This month, we highlighted new, intelligent updates in G Suite to help teams accomplish more: Hangouts Chat is available, Calendar will use artificial intelligence (AI) to suggest the best conference room for you and Quick Access in Docs will intelligently suggest files to help you build out more useful materials like it does in Drive.

ICYMI 1
Image 1 ICYMI

Now that Chat is available, you can start using it with your team to move projects forward. First thing’s first. Set up your notifications.

Go to the cog wheel at the top right of your Chat screen (chat.google.com) and select “Notification settings” to specify when and where you receive notifications on web and mobile. Choose the down arrows and select the option that’s right for you. In that same window, you can also decide whether you want to be notified by email. Once you’ve picked your preferred settings, click “ok.”

Here are more tips on how to use Chat.

ICYMI header 2

→ It’s now possible to comment on Microsoft Office files stored in Google Drive, just like you do in Docs. Comment, assign tasks or mention coworkers on Office files, PDFs and images within the Drive preview pane. Dive straight into collaborating with clients or coworkers in real-time, no matter the file.

Bloccos - Image 1

→ We’re making it easier for developers to create more engaging email experiences for their users using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)—stuff like RSVPing to events, scheduling appointments or filling out questionnaires directly in email. Developers can sign up here for preview access.

→ Jamboard is coming to the European Union next month. Welcome to the Jam-fam, Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain and Finland.

→ Speaking of jamming, we also added AI-powered AutoDraw to Jamboard. This new drawing tool auto-detects what you sketch in Jamboard and pairs it with suggested images. Great for creative teams or students (or if drawing isn’t your best talent).

Autodraw

→ Now you can email coworkers within Team Drives. Click the drop-down menu next to your Team Drives name and select “Email members.” Don’t worry, it’s easy to customize who gets your email and who can access what files. Learn more.


Here’s a full list of product news (PDF version). See you next month.

New ways to help teams work faster and smarter with G Suite

Today’s workplace is vastly different than it was 30 years ago. It used to be that a business could rely on a single team in a single location to get things done. These days, business is more diverse, dynamic and distributed than ever before. Decisions have to be made fast, teams need to align quickly and time can’t be wasted on repetitive, manual tasks. Consequently, companies that rely on decades-old, legacy work systems may find they aren’t agile enough to compete and stay relevant.

Imagine that your team needs to close a major sales deal. Stakeholders in multiple locations have to be consulted on the strategy. Customer needs have to be identified, a winning pitch must be drafted and the entire team must align on the right pricing approach—all before the end of the quarter.

G Suite makes this possible. It transforms the way teams collaborate, with intelligent tools that help them solve problems faster and focus their time on work that matters. Today, we’re announcing new, intelligent updates to G Suite to give businesses even more ways to manage projects—like closing a sales deal or bringing a new product to market—from one place.

Use a new, centralized platform to stay aligned on projects and make decisions quicker.

Available today, Hangouts Chat makes it easy to collaborate efficiently so teams can make faster decisions. With team chat rooms and threaded conversations, powerful search functionality and intelligent bots that connect workflows and speed up tasks (even with 3rd party apps), you can work on projects from one spot—like opening a new store location or launching an advertising campaign. Chat has deep integrations with other G Suite apps like Google Drive, Calendar and Hangouts Meet, and built-in security to meet retention, eDiscovery and regulatory/compliance needs for enterprises. Read more about Hangouts Chat or learn how you can build your own bots.

Spend less time setting up meetings and more time accomplishing goals.

We want to make it simple to manage meetings, which is why we’ve built tools to help you surface conference room information and find times to meet. In the coming months, Calendar will use artificial intelligence to automatically suggest rooms for you to book. And because they’ll be optimized for each attendee based on their building and floor location, previous booking history, audio/video equipment needs and room capacity requirements, you can feel confident that you’re booking the right space for your team to be productive.

ARS - GIF

Solve problems face-to-face with teammates over video, right away.

Sometimes it’s best to jump into an online meeting face-to-face with colleagues so you don’t hold up progress. Now, your team can quickly transition from a conversation in Chat and join a Hangouts Meet video conferencing meeting with just a few clicks.

Spend less time searching for the right documents and more time crafting ideas.

Today, we’re bringing Quick Access to Docs to help teams focus their time on work that matters (similar to Quick Access in Drive). Quick Access uses artificial intelligence to suggest relevant files based on signals like Drive activity and information in your documents, so you can work with the most up-to-date information and create new material quickly. Let’s say your global marketing team needs a central project plan; the team can start a Doc and use Quick Access in the Explore panel to find information from related files and add it into the plan quickly.

Image 3 - Bundle

To stay relevant, businesses must transform how they operate. Try today’s updates in G Suite and empower your teams to work better together.

Move projects forward from one place—Hangouts Chat now available

Teams want to be able to get their work done in one place, which is why we introduced the Early Adopter Program of Hangouts Chat to bring teams together. Today, we’re making Chat generally available as a core G Suite service.  

From direct messages to group conversations, Chat helps teams collaborate easily and efficiently. With dedicated, virtual rooms to house projects over time—plus threaded conversations—Chat makes it simple to track progress and follow up tasks. In one place, you can:

  • Easily work with other G Suite apps. Upload items from Drive, collaborate on Docs, Sheets or Slides, join online meetings with Hangouts Meet, or use Google’s powerful search to look up room members, past conversations and shared files.
  • Use artificial intelligence to speed up workflows.When your teams collaborate in Chat, you can speed up manual work, like booking conference rooms, searching for files and more using artificial intelligence.
  • Collaborate with colleagues around the globe.Chat currently supports 28 languages and each room can support up to 8,000 members. It’s available on desktop for Windows and MacOS, as well as iOS and Android so you can easily collaborate on the go.
  • Have peace of mind with embedded security. Chat builds on G Suite’s security-first ecosystem and offers an enterprise-grade solution that’s reliable and compliant. With integrated support for Vault, admins can archive, preserve, search and export Chat-specific data.

Use third-party integrations in Chat to drive team projects

Chat also comes equipped with 25 bots to help speed up workflows, ranging from finance and human resources to CRM, project management and more. There are bots that integrate directly with other G Suite apps, like:

  • The @Google Drive bot which lets you know when files are shared with you, comments are made or when people request access to your docs.
  • The @Meet bot which integrates directly with Calendar to schedule meetings for you.

@Drive bot

Or you can build integrations on top of Chat to incorporate tools you use everyday. Building for Chat is simple. Says Prosperworks’ Chief Product Officer, Jon Aniano, “Hangouts Chat offered a terrific platform for us to build a Prosperworks Bot. We’ve since used the bot to deliver real-time CRM status updates to our sales teams, and they’ve been able to be more responsive to customer needs. Chat has made quick, intelligent collaboration a reality for our teams.”

These popular enterprise application companies have already developed bots for you to try out:

Bot integration partners - Hangouts Chat

In case you’re wondering, Chat is compatible with Hangouts and works with your existing contacts. To get started, go to chat.google.com on the web or download the app on your desktop or mobile devices. Chat will be made available over the next 7 days. Here are some handy resources on Hangouts Chat and Meet to help you get started (or just use this cheat sheet).

An invitation you’ll want to accept: updates to G Suite meeting room hardware

We’re working closely with customers and industry experts to shape the role of technology in meetings, and we want to make it easy for teams to work together face-to-face, anytime, anywhere. A big part of getting this right is working closely with IT, AV and facilities leaders to understand how we can solve some of their challenges which is why this week, we’re at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) conference in Amsterdam to learn from AV and systems integration experts about how we can help them make meetings easier.


Over the past few years, our team has worked diligently to evolve Google Hangouts, create cost-effective, reliable meeting hardware and reimagine how teams brainstorm. Today at ISE, we’re announcing updates to make these meeting solutions even better for enterprises, including:

  • Expanding Jamboard and Hangouts Meet hardware to new countries
  • Adding AI-powered autodraw to improve your jams
  • Offering more Hangouts Meet hardware options for larger rooms

Here's what's new.

Jamboard updates: EU expansion and adding AI-powered AutoDraw

Businesses in North America and the UK are using Jamboard to collaborate, and now teams in Europe can jam together, too. Next month, Jamboard will be available for purchase in eight additional countries: Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain and Finland.

Along with expanding Jamboard to new markets, we’re also adding an AI-powered feature called AutoDraw. AutoDraw is a new drawing tool in Jamboard that auto-detects sketches you make and pairs them with images. This gives teams the ability to make their ideas even more visual—whether you’re a creative designer working with clients or even  a teacher working with students.

Autodraw

We also recently welcomed the Jamboard app as a core service in G Suite. For everything else Jamboard, check out google.com/jamboard.

Hangouts Meet hardware updates: more options for larger rooms

Jamboard EU 2018 Image 2

Fast video meetings are the most effective when they’re available everywhere. Today, we’re also expanding Hangouts Meet hardware—our latest meeting solution—to two additional countries: the Netherlands and Denmark, bringing the total to 14 countries.

Until now, the Hangouts Meet hardware kit has consisted of a touchscreen controller, speakermic, ASUS Chromebox and 4K sensor camera, great for capturing small rooms. While this has made it easy for some businesses to collaborate straight out of the box, we want to ensure the kit is scalable to any room size. So today, we’re adding options for larger rooms:

  • A new Hangouts Meet room kit that comes with a Logitech PTZ Pro 2 and accommodates up to 20 people. The camera can capture details with 10x optical zoom, and you can pan and tilt to focus on participants.
  • A standalone Meet speakermic to keep audio quality crisp in bigger rooms. Custom designed and built by Google, the speakermic intelligently reduces echoes and manages background noise. It’s easy to daisy chain up to 5 speakermics together to bring great quality audio to every corner of a room.

To learn more about Hangouts Meet hardware, check out our website.

And if you’re attending ISE, stop by our booth at B200 in Hall 15.

The meeting room, by G Suite

With G Suite, we’re focused on building tools that help you bring great ideas to life. We know meetings are the main entry point for teams to share and shape ideas into action. That’s why we recently introduced Hangouts Meet, an evolution of Google Hangouts designed specifically for the workplace, and Jamboard, a way to bring creative brainstorming directly into meetings. Combined with Calendar and Drive, these tools extend collaboration beyond four walls and transform how we work—so every team member has a voice, no matter location.

But the transformative power of video meetings is wasted if it’s not affordable and accessible to all organizations. So today, we’re introducing Hangouts Meet hardware—a new way to bring high-quality video meetings to businesses of any size. We’re also announcing new software updates designed to make your meetings even more productive.

Introducing Hangouts Meet hardware

Hangouts Meet hardware is a cost-effective way to bring high-quality video meetings to your business. The hardware kit consists of four components: a touchscreen controller, speakermic, 4K sensor camera and ASUS Chromebox.

Hangouts Meet controller

The new controller provides a modern, intuitive touchscreen interface that allows people to easily join scheduled events from Calendar or view meeting details with a single tap. You can pin and mute team members, as well as control the camera, making managing meetings easy. You can also add participants with the dial-a-phone feature and present from a laptop via HDMI. If you’re a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, you can record the meeting to Drive.

Designed by Google, the Hangouts Meet speakermic actively eliminates echo and background noise to provide crisp, clear audio. Up to five speakermics can be daisy-chained together with a single wire, providing coverage for larger rooms without tabletop clutter.

The 4K sensor camera with 120° field of view easily captures everyone at the table, even in small spaces that some cameras find challenging. Each camera component is fine-tuned to make meetings more personal and distraction-free. Built with machine learning, the camera can intelligently detect participants and automatically crop and zoom to frame them.

Powered by Chrome OS, the ASUS Chromebox makes deploying and managing Hangouts Meet hardware easier than ever. The Chromebox can automatically push updates to other components in the hardware kit, making it easier for large organizations to ensure security and reliability. Remote device monitoring and management make it easy for IT administrators to stay in control, too.

New Hangouts Meet enhancements greatly improve user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. It also creates new ways for our team to collaborate. Bradley Rhodes
IT Analyst, Woolworths Limited, Australia

Says Bradley Rhodes, IT Analyst End User Computing at Woolworths Ltd Australia, “We are very excited about the new Hangouts Meet hardware, particularly the easy-to-use touchscreen. The enhancements greatly improve the user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. We have also seen it create new ways for our team to collaborate, like via the touch-to-record functionality which allows absent participants to catch up more effectively.”

More features, better meetings

We’re also announcing updates to Meet based on valuable feedback. If you’re a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, you can:

Dial in image Hangouts Meet
  • Record meetings and save them to Drive. Can’t make the meeting? No problem. Record your meeting directly to Drive. Even without a Hangouts Meet hardware kit, Meet on web can save your team’s ideas with a couple of clicks.
  • Host meetings with up to 50 participants. Meet supports up to 50 participants in a meeting, especially useful for bringing global teams together from both inside and outside of your organization.
  • Dial in from around the globe. The dial-in feature in Meet is now available in more than a dozen markets. If you board a flight in one country and land in another, Meet will automatically update your meeting’s dial-in listing to a local phone number.

These new features are rolling out gradually. The hardware kit is priced at $1999 and is available in select markets around the globe beginning today.

Whether you're collaborating in Jamboard, recording meetings and referencing discussions in Drive or scheduling your next team huddle in Calendar, Hangouts Meet hardware makes it even easier to bring the power of your favorite G Suite tools into team meetings. For more information, visit the G Suite website.

Source: Drive


The meeting room, by G Suite

With G Suite, we’re focused on building tools that help you bring great ideas to life. We know meetings are the main entry point for teams to share and shape ideas into action. That’s why we recently introduced Hangouts Meet, an evolution of Google Hangouts designed specifically for the workplace, and Jamboard, a way to bring creative brainstorming directly into meetings. Combined with Calendar and Drive, these tools extend collaboration beyond four walls and transform how we work—so every team member has a voice, no matter location.

But the transformative power of video meetings is wasted if it’s not affordable and accessible to all organizations. So today, we’re introducing Hangouts Meet hardware—a new way to bring high-quality video meetings to businesses of any size. We’re also announcing new software updates designed to make your meetings even more productive.

Introducing Hangouts Meet hardware

Hangouts Meet hardware is a cost-effective way to bring high-quality video meetings to your business. The hardware kit consists of four components: a touchscreen controller, speakermic, 4K sensor camera and ASUS Chromebox.

Hangouts Meet controller

The new controller provides a modern, intuitive touchscreen interface that allows people to easily join scheduled events from Calendar or view meeting details with a single tap. You can pin and mute team members, as well as control the camera, making managing meetings easy. You can also add participants with the dial-a-phone feature and present from a laptop via HDMI. If you’re a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, you can record the meeting to Drive.

Designed by Google, the Hangouts Meet speakermic actively eliminates echo and background noise to provide crisp, clear audio. Up to five speakermics can be daisy-chained together with a single wire, providing coverage for larger rooms without tabletop clutter.

The 4K sensor camera with 120° field of view easily captures everyone at the table, even in small spaces that some cameras find challenging. Each camera component is fine-tuned to make meetings more personal and distraction-free. Built with machine learning, the camera can intelligently detect participants and automatically crop and zoom to frame them.

Powered by Chrome OS, the ASUS Chromebox makes deploying and managing Hangouts Meet hardware easier than ever. The Chromebox can automatically push updates to other components in the hardware kit, making it easier for large organizations to ensure security and reliability. Remote device monitoring and management make it easy for IT administrators to stay in control, too.

New Hangouts Meet enhancements greatly improve user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. It also creates new ways for our team to collaborate. Bradley Rhodes
IT Analyst, Woolworths Limited, Australia

Says Bradley Rhodes, IT Analyst End User Computing at Woolworths Ltd Australia, “We are very excited about the new Hangouts Meet hardware, particularly the easy-to-use touchscreen. The enhancements greatly improve the user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. We have also seen it create new ways for our team to collaborate, like via the touch-to-record functionality which allows absent participants to catch up more effectively.”

More features, better meetings

We’re also announcing updates to Meet based on valuable feedback. If you’re a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, you can:

Dial in image Hangouts Meet
  • Record meetings and save them to Drive. Can’t make the meeting? No problem. Record your meeting directly to Drive. Even without a Hangouts Meet hardware kit, Meet on web can save your team’s ideas with a couple of clicks.
  • Host meetings with up to 50 participants. Meet supports up to 50 participants in a meeting, especially useful for bringing global teams together from both inside and outside of your organization.
  • Dial in from around the globe. The dial-in feature in Meet is now available in more than a dozen markets. If you board a flight in one country and land in another, Meet will automatically update your meeting’s dial-in listing to a local phone number.

These new features are rolling out gradually. The hardware kit is priced at $1999 and is available in select markets around the globe beginning today.

Whether you're collaborating in Jamboard, recording meetings and referencing discussions in Drive or scheduling your next team huddle in Calendar, Hangouts Meet hardware makes it even easier to bring the power of your favorite G Suite tools into team meetings. For more information, visit the G Suite website.

Source: Google Cloud


The meeting room, by G Suite

With G Suite, we’re focused on building tools that help you bring great ideas to life. We know meetings are the main entry point for teams to share and shape ideas into action. That’s why we recently introduced Hangouts Meet, an evolution of Google Hangouts designed specifically for the workplace, and Jamboard, a way to bring creative brainstorming directly into meetings. Combined with Calendar and Drive, these tools extend collaboration beyond four walls and transform how we work—so every team member has a voice, no matter location.

But the transformative power of video meetings is wasted if it’s not affordable and accessible to all organizations. So today, we’re introducing Hangouts Meet hardware—a new way to bring high-quality video meetings to businesses of any size. We’re also announcing new software updates designed to make your meetings even more productive.

Introducing Hangouts Meet hardware

Hangouts Meet hardware is a cost-effective way to bring high-quality video meetings to your business. The hardware kit consists of four components: a touchscreen controller, speakermic, 4K sensor camera and ASUS Chromebox.

Hangouts Meet controller

The new controller provides a modern, intuitive touchscreen interface that allows people to easily join scheduled events from Calendar or view meeting details with a single tap. You can pin and mute team members, as well as control the camera, making managing meetings easy. You can also add participants with the dial-a-phone feature and present from a laptop via HDMI. If you’re a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, you can record the meeting to Drive.

Designed by Google, the Hangouts Meet speakermic actively eliminates echo and background noise to provide crisp, clear audio. Up to five speakermics can be daisy-chained together with a single wire, providing coverage for larger rooms without tabletop clutter.

The 4K sensor camera with 120° field of view easily captures everyone at the table, even in small spaces that some cameras find challenging. Each camera component is fine-tuned to make meetings more personal and distraction-free. Built with machine learning, the camera can intelligently detect participants and automatically crop and zoom to frame them.

Powered by Chrome OS, the ASUS Chromebox makes deploying and managing Hangouts Meet hardware easier than ever. The Chromebox can automatically push updates to other components in the hardware kit, making it easier for large organizations to ensure security and reliability. Remote device monitoring and management make it easy for IT administrators to stay in control, too.

New Hangouts Meet enhancements greatly improve user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. It also creates new ways for our team to collaborate. Bradley Rhodes
IT Analyst, Woolworths Limited, Australia

Says Bradley Rhodes, IT Analyst End User Computing at Woolworths Ltd Australia, “We are very excited about the new Hangouts Meet hardware, particularly the easy-to-use touchscreen. The enhancements greatly improve the user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. We have also seen it create new ways for our team to collaborate, like via the touch-to-record functionality which allows absent participants to catch up more effectively.”

More features, better meetings

We’re also announcing updates to Meet based on valuable feedback. If you’re a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, you can:

Dial in image Hangouts Meet
  • Record meetings and save them to Drive. Can’t make the meeting? No problem. Record your meeting directly to Drive. Even without a Hangouts Meet hardware kit, Meet on web can save your team’s ideas with a couple of clicks.
  • Host meetings with up to 50 participants. Meet supports up to 50 participants in a meeting, especially useful for bringing global teams together from both inside and outside of your organization.
  • Dial in from around the globe. The dial-in feature in Meet is now available in more than a dozen markets. If you board a flight in one country and land in another, Meet will automatically update your meeting’s dial-in listing to a local phone number.

These new features are rolling out gradually. The hardware kit is priced at $1999 and is available in select markets around the globe beginning today.

Whether you're collaborating in Jamboard, recording meetings and referencing discussions in Drive or scheduling your next team huddle in Calendar, Hangouts Meet hardware makes it even easier to bring the power of your favorite G Suite tools into team meetings. For more information, visit the G Suite website.

How Google went all in on video meetings (and you can, too)

Editor’s note: this is the first article in a five-part series on Google Hangouts.

I’ve worked at Google for more than a decade and have seen the company expand across geographies—including to Stockholm where I have worked from day one. My coworkers and I build video conferencing technology to help global teams work better together.

It’s sometimes easy to forget what life was like before face-to-face video conferencing (VC) at work, but we struggled with many of the same issues that other companies deal with—cobbled together communication technologies, dropped calls, expensive solutions. Here’s a look at how we transitioned Google to be a cloud video meeting-first company.

2004 - 2007: Life before Hangouts

In the mid-2000s, Google underwent explosive growth. We grew from nearly 3,000 employees to more than 17,000 across 40 offices globally. Historically, we relied on traditional conference phone bridging and email to communicate across time zones, but phone calls don’t exactly inspire creativity and tone gets lost in translation with email threads.

We realized that the technology we used didn’t mirror how our teams actually like to work together. If I want to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.

Google decided to go all in on video meetings. We outsourced proprietary video conferencing (VC) technology and outfitted large meeting rooms with these devices. 

If I need to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.
Hangouts 1

While revolutionary, this VC technology was extremely costly. Each unit could cost upwards of $50,000, and that did not include support, licensing and network maintenance fees. To complicate matters, the units were powered by complex, on-prem infrastructure and required several support technicians. By 2007, nearly 2,400 rooms were equipped with the technology.

Then we broke it.

The system was built to host meetings for team members in the office, but didn't cater to people on the go. As more and more Googlers used video meetings, we reached maximum capacity on the technology’s infrastructure and experienced frequent dropped calls and poor audio/visual (AV) quality. I even remember one of the VC bridges catching on fire! We had to make a change.

2008 - 2013: Taking matters into our own hands

In 2008, we built our own VC solution that could keep up with the rate at which we were growing. We scaled with software and moved meetings to the cloud.

Our earliest “Hangouts” prototype was Gmail Video Chat, a way to connect with contacts directly in Gmail. Hours after releasing the service to the public, it had hundreds of thousand of users.

Hangouts 2

While a good start, we knew we couldn’t scale group video conferencing within Gmail. We built our second iteration, which tied meeting rooms to unique URLs. We introduced it to Googlers in 2009 and the product took off.

During this journey, we also built our own infrastructure (WebRTC) so we no longer had to rely on third-party audio and video components. Our internal IT team created our own VC hardware prototypes; we used  touchscreen computers and custom software with the first version of Hangouts and called it “Google Video Conferencing” (“GVC” for short).

With each of these elements, we had now built our earliest version of Hangouts. After a few years of testing—and widespread adoption by Googlers—we made the platform available externally to customers in 2014 (“Chromebox for Meetings”). In the first two weeks, we sold more than 2,000 units. By the end of the year, every Google conference room and company device had access to VC.

2014 - today: Transforming how businesses do business

GIF test

Nearly a decade has passed since we built the first prototype. Face-to-face collaboration is ingrained in Google’s DNA now—more than 16,500 meetings rooms are VC-equipped at Google and our employees join Hangouts 240,000 times per day! That's equivalent to spending more than 10 years per day collaborating in video meetings. And, now, more than 3 million businesses are using Hangouts to transform how they work too.

We learned a lot about what it takes to successfully collaborate as a scaling business. If you’re looking to transition your meetings to the cloud with VC, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Encourage video engagement from the start. Every good idea needs a champion. Be seen as an innovator by evangelizing video engagement in company meetings from the start. Your team will thank you for it.
  2. If you’re going to move to VC, make it available everywhere. We transformed our work culture to be video meeting-first because we made VC ubiquitous. Hangouts Meet brings you a consistent experience across web, mobile and conference rooms.  If you’re going to make the switch, go all in and make it accessible to everyone.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Video meetings can help distributed teams feel more engaged and help employees collaborate whenever, and wherever, inspiration strikes. This means you’ll have more diverse perspectives which makes for better quality output.

What’s next? Impactful additions and improvements to Hangouts Meet will be announced soon. All the while, we’re continuing to research how teams work together and how we can evolve VC technology to reflect that collaboration. For example, we’re experimenting with making scheduling easier for teams thanks to the @meet AI bot in the early adopter version of Hangouts Chat.

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How Google went all in on video meetings (and you can, too)

Editor’s note: this is the first article in a five-part series on Google Hangouts.

I’ve worked at Google for more than a decade and have seen the company expand across geographies—including to Stockholm where I have worked from day one. My coworkers and I build video conferencing technology to help global teams work better together.

It’s sometimes easy to forget what life was like before face-to-face video conferencing (VC) at work, but we struggled with many of the same issues that other companies deal with—cobbled together communication technologies, dropped calls, expensive solutions. Here’s a look at how we transitioned Google to be a cloud video meeting-first company.

2004 - 2007: Life before Hangouts

In the mid-2000s, Google underwent explosive growth. We grew from nearly 3,000 employees to more than 17,000 across 40 offices globally. Historically, we relied on traditional conference phone bridging and email to communicate across time zones, but phone calls don’t exactly inspire creativity and tone gets lost in translation with email threads.

We realized that the technology we used didn’t mirror how our teams actually like to work together. If I want to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.

Google decided to go all in on video meetings. We outsourced proprietary video conferencing (VC) technology and outfitted large meeting rooms with these devices. 

If I need to sort out a problem or present an idea, I’d rather be face-to-face with my team, not waiting idly on a conference bridge line.
Hangouts 1
A conference room in Google’s Zurich office in 2007 which had outsourced VC technology.

While revolutionary, this VC technology was extremely costly. Each unit could cost upwards of $50,000, and that did not include support, licensing and network maintenance fees. To complicate matters, the units were powered by complex, on-prem infrastructure and required several support technicians. By 2007, nearly 2,400 rooms were equipped with the technology.

Then we broke it.

The system was built to host meetings for team members in the office, but didn't cater to people on the go. As more and more Googlers used video meetings, we reached maximum capacity on the technology’s infrastructure and experienced frequent dropped calls and poor audio/visual (AV) quality. I even remember one of the VC bridges catching on fire! We had to make a change.

2008 - 2013: Taking matters into our own hands

In 2008, we built our own VC solution that could keep up with the rate at which we were growing. We scaled with software and moved meetings to the cloud.

Our earliest “Hangouts” prototype was Gmail Video Chat, a way to connect with contacts directly in Gmail. Hours after releasing the service to the public, it had hundreds of thousands of users.

Gmail voice and video chat

The earliest software prototype for video conferencing at Google, Gmail Video Chat.

Hangouts 2

Arthur van der Geer tests out the earliest prototype for Hangouts, go/meet. 

While a good start, we knew we couldn’t scale group video conferencing within Gmail. We built our second iteration, which tied meeting rooms to unique URLs. We introduced it to Googlers in 2009 and the product took off.

During this journey, we also built our own infrastructure (WebRTC) so we no longer had to rely on third-party audio and video components. Our internal IT team created our own VC hardware prototypes; we used  touchscreen computers and custom software with the first version of Hangouts and called it “Google Video Conferencing” (“GVC” for short).

First Google Video Conferencing Prototype | 2008

Google engineers test the first Google Video Conferencing hardware prototype in 2008.

With each of these elements, we had now built our earliest version of Hangouts. After a few years of testing—and widespread adoption by Googlers—we made the platform available externally to customers in 2014 (“Chromebox for Meetings”). In the first two weeks, we sold more than 2,000 units. By the end of the year, every Google conference room and company device had access to VC.

2014 - today: Transforming how businesses do business

GIF test

Nearly a decade has passed since we built the first prototype. Face-to-face collaboration is ingrained in Google’s DNA now—more than 16,500 meetings rooms are VC-equipped at Google and our employees join Hangouts 240,000 times per day! That's equivalent to spending more than 10 years per day collaborating in video meetings. And, now, more than 3 million businesses are using Hangouts to transform how they work too.

We learned a lot about what it takes to successfully collaborate as a scaling business. If you’re looking to transition your meetings to the cloud with VC, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Encourage video engagement from the start. Every good idea needs a champion. Be seen as an innovator by evangelizing video engagement in company meetings from the start. Your team will thank you for it.
  2. If you’re going to move to VC, make it available everywhere. We transformed our work culture to be video meeting-first because we made VC ubiquitous. Hangouts Meet brings you a consistent experience across web, mobile and conference rooms.  If you’re going to make the switch, go all in and make it accessible to everyone.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Video meetings can help distributed teams feel more engaged and help employees collaborate whenever, and wherever, inspiration strikes. This means you’ll have more diverse perspectives which makes for better quality output.

What’s next? Impactful additions and improvements to Hangouts Meet will be announced soon. All the while, we’re continuing to research how teams work together and how we can evolve VC technology to reflect that collaboration. For example, we’re experimenting with making scheduling easier for teams thanks to the @meet AI bot in the early adopter version of Hangouts Chat.

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Source: Google Cloud


English county council saves millions switching to G Suite and Chromebooks

A day in the life of an employee at Northumberland County Council in northern England involves everything from running schools, repairing roads or literally putting out fires. It’s work that never stops and that stretches across a rural area the size of Greater London with 330,000 citizens and three million sheep.

Two years ago, the Northumberland IT team started to notice strain in their service infrastructure which connects 380 locations across the region, and recent budget cuts made that system feel increasingly unworkable.

"We had a very big legacy setup that was costing us a fortune in licensing and devices,” says Neil Arnold, Chief Information Officer at Northumberland County Council. “We decided to bring people together in a central hub to make teams more agile."

Creating G Suite champions

After evaluation, Arnold and his team chose G Suite for its functionality and flexibility. The team relied on Netpremacy, a Google Cloud partner, to train 300 staff members to educate colleagues on how to use G Suite. Within months, 5,500 corporate users and 11,500 schools users had been set up with G Suite accounts. “Without the support of Netpremacy, we wouldn't have been able to implement as rapidly as we did,” says Arnold. “They recognised the cultural challenges. There was skepticism at first, but users really took the tools to heart when they could see the benefits.”

From different locations across the region, staff began working collaboratively on Docs and Sheets and inviting others to join. The team saved money by switching to Chromebooks and Arnold and his colleagues started using Hangouts to join meetings to stay synced on daily work.

Even firefighters, who were reluctant to try out Hangouts at first, started using it regularly. “Firefighters now use Hangouts at the scene of fires to communicate with central command, monitor the fire, and decide how many vehicles they need,” says Arnold. “The chief fire officer doesn't have to get in his car and drive out to the scene to help — he can do it all from wherever he is.”

Firefighters use Hangouts at the scene of fires to communicate to central command, so the chief fire officer doesn't have to drive to the scene. Neil Arnold CIO, Northumberland County Council

Saving big by going cloud-first

Arnold expects switching to Chromebooks will help Northumberland County Council save close to £2.5 million on licensing and hardware, without sacrificing data security since Chromebooks have multiple protection layers.

The next step for Arnold and his team is to bring G Suite to the classroom. “We've got a lot of schools using Google Classroom successfully,” he says, “and we want to roll G Suite out to more schools. It’ll be a big efficiency for them, because many have small file servers on site, that they manage themselves or pay a third-party to manage. Drive will help them decommission that.”

Meanwhile, outdated exchange and file servers are being closed down across the council as data is seamlessly transferred to Google Cloud. The new central office for the county is set to open in 2019, and Arnold does not plan to have a datacenter at the new building: “That footprint’s going to reduce over the next three years to virtually nothing.” 

“I've been working in IT for over 30 years and this has been one of the most successful and satisfying projects I've ever been involved in,” says Arnold. “We’ve achieved more than we expected and using G Suite has been a tremendous catalyst for change.”