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Google Voice vs Google Hangouts

Sam Huisache
December 6, 2019

Google Voice vs Google Hangouts

As one of the largest and most popular tech companies in the world, Google products, which are often offered at no cost to personal users, are also among the most popular in their various software categories.

In the Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) space, Google offers two different products: Google Voice and Google Hangouts. While these two products are very similar, they provide users with different capabilities and features. These features also vary based on whether they’re being used for “personal” use or for businesses. Below, I’ll dive into the best use cases for both products and share a bit of my experience using both for personal and business use.

Google Voice

Google Voice logo

Google Voice provides users with “smart” voice calling across PC and mobile devices (Android and iOS). One of its key selling points is that it can assign users with a personalized phone number that they can sync with their personal devices. This phone number can be used for both incoming and outgoing calls, and receiving and sending text messages.

My favorite aspect of using Google Voice is the control over your privacy that it provides. It allows you to use your personal devices for business, while protecting your actual number (and information). This is great for small business owners who maybe can’t justify investing in a separate mobile phone, but want to be able to have public-facing contact information.

Standard features including auto-blocking for calls identified as spam, “approved” contact lists,  voicemail transcription, and call forwarding. Features that should be extremely appealing to business are call routing to multiple phones, conferencing calls, call recording and online archiving, and the ability to port numbers. Appealing to everyone: unlimited calls and SMS within the U.S. and Canada.

“Many of our users rely on their mobile devices, especially when out in the field or in our other areas and this is where Google Voice shines for us. It allows all of the devices to be linked and calls made from any of them without any complications, and it will also work great with multiple numbers. Number consolidation is easy and this the number the person getting the call will see.”

Lochan K.| Photographer | Medical Practice

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts logo

Prior to October 2019, Google Voice and Google Hangouts had much in common. The biggest difference was that Google Hangouts supported video chat and online chat, and didn’t provide you with a unique phone number. Google Hangouts’ biggest selling point for me at the time was that I could host video conferences with peers and colleagues around the world for free. The fact that I could also make phone calls from my computer to both the U.S. and Canada wasn’t too shabby either.

However, in 2017, Google announced that “Google Hangouts” will now consist of two products: Google Hangouts Meet (for online video meetings) and Google Hangouts Chat (team chat and messaging). Google plans to discontinue Google Hangouts (the original product) for consumers in June 2020, so get your free phone calls through Google Hangouts in right now.

What does this mean for us Hangouts fans? Well, if you want to still stick with Google for your VoIP and video conferencing needs for personal use, you should check out Google Duo. This is basically Google’s answer to Apple’s Facetime app. It provides users with free video calls that can be held using phones, tablets, computers, and televisions, with up to 8 people participating.

For businesses, however, you can stick with Google Hangouts Meet and Google Hangouts Chat. They’re both designed to work with businesses of all sizes, with pricing tiers to reflect that. Their Basic plans start at $6 a month per user, their “Business” plan is $12 a month per user, and their “Enterprise” tier is $25 a user per month.

Google Hangouts Meet and Google Hangouts Chat are designed to consolidate organizations’ full suite of collaboration tools into the Google Suite. If you’re on the market for a web conferencing or team messaging platform, these are two products to consider. However, Google Hangouts Meet does not have the VoIP capabilities that the original Google Hangouts had. Be mindful of this if you are trying to consolidate your VoIP software with your web conferencing and collaboration tools.

“When employees started using Google Hangouts we realized that it leads us to achieve so many goals both organizational and departmental-wide. One of the biggest issues we had was allocating IT trainees when an employee faces technical issues. With in-built screen sharing feature in Google Hangouts finally, we were able to solve all those technical issues without going to the user.”

Sajith S. | Information Security Intern | Sri Lanka Tourism

Figure out what you need, or what you don’t

If you’re currently using Google Voice and/or Google Hangouts, and the information I’ve shared in this post has you kind of nervous, do not fear! You can still check out reviews of both Google Voice and Google Hangouts here on TrustRadius and dig into the experiences of other users with similar use cases. Do you simply need to make phone calls and send texts? Or do you just want to be able to host video conferences?

Since Google Hangouts is still available for consumers right now, you can still check out its current lineup of features for free. This is a great way to determine if Google Hangouts Meet or Google Hangouts Chat are tools you will want to consider investing in as an organization.  

About the Author

Sam Huisache
Sam is a research associate at TrustRadius focused on researching and creating edifying content for the software markets that TrustRadius covers. They have a BA in Politics from New York University and an MPA with a concentration in Social Enterprise & Non-Profit Management from The George Washington University. With a passion for social innovation, Sam thrives on helping others realize their concepts to fruition.

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