What Is Google Chat?

Google's web messaging service is an alternative to Apple iMessage and Slack

Google Chat is a web messaging service. Users can send text, photos, animated gifs, videos, and files to individuals and groups. It also supports Spaces, a threaded group conversation designed for collaboration.

What Is Google Chat Used For?

Google Chat is used to send messages over the web. It requires an Internet connection to use, as SMS/MMS text messaging is not supported. It supports two forms of messages: direct messages and Spaces.

A direct message sends text or media directly to one or more recipients on Google Chat. The recipients can view the message and send a reply. This is similar to dozens of other messaging services like Apple's iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.

Google Chat also supports Spaces, which function more like a chat room. Spaces provide dedicated tabs for Files and Tasks shared by participants. They also support threaded conversations, meaning participants can respond to specific messages instead of messaging all participants. Spaces is similar to enterprise messaging services like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

How Is Google Chat Different From Google Hangouts?

Google Hangouts is a discontinued messaging service. Released in 2013, Hangouts was Google's primary web messaging service for several years. It was available as an app for Android and iPhone. PC and macOS users could access it through a web app or in Gmail.

Hangouts supported a wide range of features. It could be used not only for web messaging, including text, photos, and video, but also to place phone calls, send SMS text messages, and host video conferences.

Google Chat is more limited, as it focuses solely on web messaging. Chat doesn't support SMS/MMS texting and doesn't support video chat or video conferencing.

How Is Google Chat Different From Google Meet?

Google Chat supports web messaging but lacks support for video conferencing. This feature is instead found in Google Meet, a real-time video communication service launched in 2017.

Google Meet is similar to video communication services such as Zoom and Skype. It supports video conferences with multiple participants. It can also be used to host live presentations in which most participants are muted.

While Google Chat lacks video conferencing, it does include a button that sends users to a video conference in Google Meet. This feature, if used, will launch Google Meet in a new browser window (on PC and macOS) or app (on most mobile devices).

How Is Google Chat Different From Gmail?

Google Chat is a web messaging service, while Gmail is an email service. Both send messages over the Internet, but the way they do so differs.

Google Chat users can send messages to other Google Chat users, and messages can be viewed in the Google Chat mobile or web app. It's not possible to send, receive, reply to, or view Google Chat messages outside the service.

An email sent through Gmail can be sent to any email address and viewed in any email service or app. Gmail users can export their entire email inbox and open it in another email app or service if desired.

Google Chat can be used within Gmail when accessed through a web browser or in the mobile app.

Google Has Had Many Messaging Services

Google has a long, confusing history of web messaging services, but is now attempting to put all its efforts behind Google Chat and Google Meet. Google Chat is now the best way to chat with other Google users over the web.

FAQ
  • What does "idle" mean in Google Chat?

    "Idle" is one of the statuses in Google Chat; others are Active, Do Not Disturb, and Away. Unlike the other statuses, it's automatic. You become "idle" when you haven't done anything in Chat or Gmail for at least five minutes.

  • How do I chat in Google Docs?

    You can chat in Google Docs that have at least two users who can view or edit them. To start a conversation, select Show Chat in the upper-right corner, which looks like the silhouette of a person with a chat bubble next to it.

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