Google is pushing Hangouts, its group video call service, into the enterprise space in a big way. Starting today, Google Apps for Business customers no longer need a Google+ account to jump on a call; they can use their existing credentials and instantly join a conversation with up to 14 other people in high-definition.
To coincide with the move, Google has shifted Hangouts under the same Terms of Service that cover its other Google Apps for Business products, such as Gmail and Google Drive. As a result, customers can expect 24-hour phone support, 99.9 percent “guaranteed” uptime (although even Google is susceptible to downtime, it should be noted) and relevant industry certifications.
Not every business has made the jump to Hangouts, so Google is also teaming up with other videoconferencing providers to support cross-service communications. Blue Jeans and InterCall have already pledged their allegiance, although I wouldn’t expect Skype to do the same anytime soon.
Finally, Google is developing its Chromebox hardware so that it can appeal to a broader range of companies. In the pipeline is support for multiple displays – this could be used for showing a presentation and audience simultaneously – and personal calendar integration. The Google Apps Admin Console is also getting a revamp with options to remotely start, mute and end calls.