Google is looking to take on popular business communication services such as Slack with the launch of Hangouts Chat.
The company has unveiled a new update to its instant messaging platform Hangouts, intended to turn it into a communication tool for workplaces.
With Hangouts Chats, users can communicate with colleagues from their mobile devices and create group chats when working on collaborative projects.
Users can also use widgets to access other corporate software, including Salesforce and Kayak. These are displayed in a chat window and advertised as a core feature of the platform
Hangouts Chat is offered as a service within G Suite, Google's B2B office software package.
Google has been working on the service for some time. Last March, the company announced the product, but it is only now - a year later - making its way to the public.
It originally rolled out Hangouts in 2013 as a free instant messaging platform for consumers. However, use of the tool has been minimal with users preferring messaging tools from Facebook, as well as WhatsApp and even Skype, instead.
Looking to expand its line-up of enterprise products, the company shifted its attention to business users.
Scott Johnston, director of product management at Google, described the app as "the second incantation of Hangouts". He explained that Google wants "to move toward helping people move faster at work".
Despite a change in focus, Google confirmed that it will continue to offer users access to the free version of Hangouts. But it will give people the option to pay to upgrade, just like Gmail and Docs.
The premium version of Hangouts Chat lets users create group conversations with up to 8,000 people. There is also the option for firms to connect their databases to Chats.
Google said users are able to link Hangouts Chat to AI-driven tools as well, such as meeting schedules and calendars. The app also works with Google's teleconferencing platform, Hangouts Meet.
However, the popularity of Slack might prove a tough nut for Google to crack, while an acquisition of the company would cost $10bn or more.
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