Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Google G Suite Hangouts Chat vs Slack

On February 28th, 2018 Google made G Suite Hangouts Chat available to everyone. We've been using it in house for many months as part of the Early Adopters program and found it to be an excellent team collaboration tool. Hangouts Chat is seen as a competitor to Slack which we've implemented for some of our customers. It can also be compared to services like Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, and HipChat.

Note that Hangouts Chat should not be confused with Google Hangouts which is what most Google Search results will compare Slack to. Google Hangouts has been available for many years and is an instant messaging and video conferencing solution but lacks the chat rooms in the style of Slack.

Hangouts Chat


Some of our favourite cloud applications have released integrations to Hangouts Chat such as Copper CRM and Xero Accounting Software.

Many of our customers are already using Slack which is well integrated to Google Drive, Google Hangouts, and Google Calendar. So a common question is should G Suite customers stick with Slack or switch to Hangouts Chat?

Let's compare:

Hangouts ChatSlack
Price$0 for existing G Suite customers https://gsuite.google.com/pricing.htmlfree or $8 to $15 per month per user with discounts available for annual plans https://slack.com/pricing
Single Sign On (SSO)Yes - nothing to configureYes with $15/month Enterprise plan and some setup
Google Drive IntegrationYesYes - but permissions not integrated so must ensure document is shared with correct people to match channel
Google Calendar IntegrationYes - Including @Meet bot to book meetings with channel members when they're availableYes - but not as feature rich
Google Hangouts IntegrationYes - Direct messages in Hangouts Chat are sent to users on Google HangoutsPartial - only for opening a Hangouts video conference/meeting from within a channel. No direct message integration to Hangouts
Gmail Inbox Integration on web browserYes - New chat message indicator appears top right corner which helps bring users into Hangouts Chat organically from the user interface they use constantlyNo - Users must open Slack to be notified of new messages
Mobile AppsAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS
eDiscovery /ComplianceYes - fully integrated to Google Vault so admins can set retention policies, search, and retain data for legal matters https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/2018/02/google-vault-support-for-hangouts-chat.htmlPartial - On Enterprise plan admins can export all data from a channel. Additional cost add-on tools are available that work with the Discovery API https://get.slack.help/hc/en-us/articles/204897248-Guide-to-Slack-data-exports
Conversation ThreadingYes. Built to always thread conversations keeping messages in contextPartial - Does not thread by default but users can choose to thread messages. https://get.slack.help/hc/en-us/articles/115000769927-Message-threads
SecuritySupports all G Suite security features and admin settings such as two-factor authentication, mobile device management for remote wipe, security keys, etc. No separate user directory to manage.Supports two-factor authentication but must be managed separately unless on Enterprise plan and logins are restricted to G Suite SSO. Users must be added/deleted separately. Remote wipe not available without third party apps
Languages28 supported5 supported
3rd party integrationsYesYes - certainly Slack's popularity and eco-system of add-ons has an advantage
Source: Google Sheet Comparison

At Interlock IT we have experience programming integrations to Slack such as auto creating or updating a Google Sheet from within a Slack channel.

Both products have their advantages and disadvantages. Switching a significant user base over to Hangouts Chat from Slack could be challenging. But if your team hasn't started with Slack, Google is offering an excellent ready to go solution for no additional cost.

Certainly feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments, or custom integration needs at Interlock IT.