In a post today on the Google apps blog, the company has announced that users who need to access a Google Hangouts video call no longer need to have a Google account to join. The update follows on an update from last year where an external link could be provided to a Hangouts video call even if they were not explicitly invited. This new update really pushes Hangouts as a video, voice and conferencing platform given how widely used it is and the fact it is on both Android and iOS devices as well as the web.
The way that this new feature will work is pretty slick. Users with the external link will click on that link, put in their name in the dialog box that pops up and click the Request to Join button. Organizers of the Hangouts call will get a pop-up with that users information and can either Accept or Decline to let them in to the call or not. It’s simple and for anyone who has used a video conferencing solution in the past, will feel very familiar.
Why Remove The Requirement For A Google Account in Hangouts
There is actually a really good reason for Google to remove the requirement for a Google account when it comes to joining a Hangouts video call. It gives them cross-domain access, or what is commonly referred to as federation. What this means is that no matter what email address you enter into the external request dialog, Google can understand and can setup the call with you, not
requiring that you be tied into their ecosystem. Equally as important, it gives the company an agnostic platform (Hangouts) for business customers to essentially have a built-in, free video and audio conferencing solution. To go further, Google announced in this update that the external link is put in the event description so even if you don’t use Google Calendar you can still access the link.
Make no mistake that while the headlines are all taking about how Apple is pushing into the Enterprise market, Google is doing the exact same thing and frankly are a step ahead. By offering solutions like Hangouts that don’t require really any commitment to that everyone be a Google customer, they are positioning themselves as the platform for this type service. Sure you will need a Google account if you want to setup voice and video calls and this new external link feature is web-only given that the iOS and Android apps require that you have a Google ID to use. But not everyone you do business with or even in your family where video calls with Hangouts happen will have to have an account. This quote from the blog post pretty much sums it up.
This new feature is available now for guests joining with a web browser, making it easy for Apps customers using Hangouts to meet with anyone – inside or outside their organization, with or without a Google account.
This new feature is rolling out today with everyone seeing the update over the course of the next 3 days. Remember, this is web only for your external users.