Updated January 2021
Nowadays, commuting into the office isn’t as essential as it used to be. Slowly but surely, businesses are realizing that many employees don’t need to be in the same workspace in order to get the best from them.
However, working remotely does bring changes to the way in which a team communicates. In order to seamlessly adapt, you need to invest in great communications software. The kind of software where you can video chat, phone call, message—and still use all your existing tools through clever integrations.
If you’re looking for a new platform to conduct your business relations from, you’ve probably considered Google Hangouts (sometimes still referred to as Google Meet). It’s easy enough to sign up with your Google account, but does that mean it works for your business? It might have enough functionality for simple things, but many small businesses need something a bit more robust.
We’re here to help in your quest to find the best Google Hangouts alternatives. Check ’em out here:
- Microsoft Teams
- Facebook Messenger
🛒 In the market for a free video conferencing app? 🛒
Our checklist includes all the essential features to look for…and even some that might surprise you!
First things first: in order to rank these alternatives, we focused on a few key aspects, including:
- Features: One of the most important elements to consider when trying out new software is of course the features. Does it have everything your business needs to effectively communicate when working from anywhere? (Can you get on a video call easily from your phone?)
- Ease of use: This doesn’t just apply to Hangouts alternatives—arguably the biggest pitfall for any type of software is a confusing interface. If it’s hard to use or hard to pick, the app just won’t get used by your team. Below, you’ll find a comparison of how easy each app is to set up and the level of customer support you can expect.
- Quality: We looked at how reliable the software is, including the cloud-based phone system connection.
- Price: Affordability is a big consideration when you’re working with a budget. But cheapest isn’t always best. We’ll look at whether the price is worth it compared to the features on offer.
- Integrations: How well will it sync with the tools you already use, such as your CRM and Gmail account? Good integrations can improve your functionality and workflow, and these will be up for comparison too.
- Overall value: We’ll dig into not only how features stack up compared to the price, but also how many add-ons you need to make the software work best for you.
Based on these criteria, here’s our ranking of the best Google Hangouts alternatives:
When it comes to the best overall performance, RingCentral is at the top of the class. And we’re not the only ones who rank RingCentral so highly either 😉: Gartner has voted RingCentral as a UCaaS Magic Quadrant leader for six years in a row.
Here’s a look at what makes RingCentral a firm favorite with businesses around the world.
RingCentral for video conferencing
RingCentral is available on your desktop, phone, and tablet as an app. This is pretty game-changing if you work in a remote or hybrid environment, because it lets you staying in touch with your team, no matter where you are.
The app is truly an all-in-one communication solution that’s built with teamwork in mind, thanks to features like HD video conferencing…
And task management…
Hop onto a conference call anytime, with up to 200 meeting participants. For small businesses, this means you can easily get the whole team on one call.
And, to make sure everyone’s ready, you can send out a video meeting invite through RingCentral’s G Suite integration. This will tell employees the date and time of the meeting, and automatically generate an online meeting link in the invite:
Connect to the team wherever
Not only does RingCentral offer HD video calling, but you can also connect to the team with cloud-based phone calls and messaging. Switch from a phone call to a video call in just one tap, perfect for demonstrating something or conducting 1:1 online meetings. (This isn’t something you get with most other options!)
Plus, when you’re sending files and documents, there’s no need to switch to another platform since you can do this directly through team messaging!
RingCentral has many integrations that allow you to integrate these meetings with other tools you’re already using. That means less time flicking between desktop and mobile apps, and more time focused on, y’know, actual work. Integrations include Microsoft 365 and Salesforce, or you can build your own with RingCentral’s open APIs.
A thoughtful team communication experience
Here are just some of the neat things you can do with RingCentral:
|File sharing||✔ Send files through team messaging.||✔|
|Screen sharing||✔ Share your screen with other users to help during discussions and demonstrations.||✔|
|Real-time analytics||✔ Get insights into your users.||✘|
|Up to 24hr meeting duration||✔ This is useful if you’re hosting a day of meetings, with new users entering and leaving.||✔|
|24/7 support||✔ Customer support is key, which is why we offer 24/7 support.||✔|
|Developer platform & custom integrations||✔ Keep everything in one place with your custom integrations.||✘|
|HD video calling||✔ Enjoy reliable video conferencing services in HD.||✔|
Pricing: RingCentral Office has an “Essentials” plan for businesses on a budget, that includes up to 20 users for $19.99 per month, per user. From here, there’s the “Standard” plan for $24.99, “Premium” for $34.99 and the “Ultimate” package for only $49.99—all per month, per user.
🤯 On top of all this, RingCentral could save you up to $400 an hour in IT costs.
Explore the RingCentral Advantage for small businesses:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other, clients, freelancers, and more.
P.S. If you’re set on a free alternative to Google Hangouts, there’s also Glip by RingCentral, which gives you free unlimited meetings. Really.
Microsoft Teams is a popular choice for many businesses, especially if they’re used to working with Windows and other Microsoft software. The nice thing is it can be used on both Android and Apple iOS, so it’s a fairly reliable platform for iPad, Mac, and Windows users alike.
With Microsoft Teams you can video call, group chat, and phone call in one place. It also offers integrations, many of which are Microsoft’s own products, as you might guess! This is useful if you do a lot of work on Excel and Word.
We’ve noted that it’s good for task management because of its Microsoft Planner integration. This can help managers to organize teamwork and create tasks with files, checklists, and labels.
Though Microsoft Teams has plenty of features, it can be frustrating to get to them because of its compartmentalized layout. For example, to find a conversation you have to click four layers deep: Teams > Team > Channel > tab. That’s a little-long winded. (PCMag notes, “Compartmentalized design gives an air of formality and rule-following that may inhibit open dialogue”.)
Pricing: Microsoft Teams does have a free version, though it has very limited features. The next upgrade is “Business Basic” for $5. After that, it’s $12.50 for “Standard,” and $20 for “Office 365 E3.”
Slack is another well known Google Hangouts alternative because it shares many features with Google Meet. Slack is less about video and phone calling though, and more about messaging.
That makes this messaging service good for teamwork because it uses channels to keep communication in one place. You can create these channels for a project, tasks, and teams. Within the channels, you can send documents and chat with colleagues.
When it comes to meetings and conferences, you won’t be able to get everything you need from Slack. All messaging, all the time, can be a bit much. Most businesses would have to transform the way they work to fit this model, whereas typically, an evolution—like maybe gradually shifting to a mix of messaging and calls—is easier for a company to manage.
Pricing: Slack offers a free version for small teams. The Standard plan is $6.67 and the Plus plan is $12.50.
Skype is well-known for personal video calls on your iPhone, but it’s made some advancements to become more business-friendly recently. Along with another video calling app, Viber, it’s maintained its popularity decently well over the past 10 years.
With messaging, audio, and video calling, the Skype app can be useful for small businesses. You can use smart emojis, stickers, and gifs to reply to messages. Some gamers even use this app to stay connected to their friends while playing.
What’s more, you can record video calls and refer to live subtitles as someone is speaking. This can be valuable when re-watching a meeting or training session afterward.
For all its good points, Skype does have downfalls—mostly when it comes to the quality of its video calls. One user review said, “The visual and audio quality depends on the internet connection. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is broken up and we have to try again later or use the phone.” Businesses need reliable HD audio and video calling capabilities, so more dedicated solutions (like RingCentral!) might be a better choice here.
Pricing: Skype is free, but some international calls cost $2.99 a month.
Zoom has increased in popularity as a Google Hangouts alternative in recent years. It’s often used for meetings, video conferencing, web conferencing, team calls, and just about any situation where you need to make a video call.
To start a meeting, you just have to hit “create a meeting,” which then lets you send that meeting as an invite link, or add people by email and phone number.
Zoom offers few additional features other than video calling. And most of those extra features are related to video calls—for example, you can change your background and screen share. While this is useful, it does limit the possibilities for communication somewhat.
Not only this, but there have been some issues with security. According to Tom’s Guide, The Federal Trade Commission announced that Zoom “misled users” and “engaged in a series of deceptive and unfair practices” regarding its own security. (Basically it wasn’t as secure for businesses as it led folks to believe.)
Pricing: Zoom is free as standard. The Pro plan is $14.99, “Business” is $19.99, and “United Business” is $30. All of these prices are per month, per user.
As the name suggests, GoToMeeting is a good option for business meetings. It has many features relating to this, including “commuter mode” for on-the-go meetings, and voice commands to start a meeting hands-free.
These are useful if you have a lot of meetings, especially if you need to share your screen with participants or live record.
Because it’s so focused on meetings, GoToMeeting is a pretty one-dimensional tool. You don’t get the benefit of amazing integrations and quite as in-depth analytics like you do with platforms like RingCentral.
Pricing: $12 per user, per month for “Professional,” $16 per month, per user for “Business.”
Webinars are becoming more and more popular in business, which is why Cisco Webex is another good Google Hangouts alternative. It lets you host a webinar for up to 3,000 participants, and for most small businesses, that’ll be just enough for you. It also allows you to webcast to up to 100,000 attendees.
Overall, Webex provides a pretty smart hybrid work experiences and seamless collaboration. But, it does have its downfalls.
Some users say Webex usability is tricky, with one customer saying, “Not inherently connecting VOIP with the screen sharing meant (for us) that we always had to wrangle 2 tools to start a meeting rather than 1.”
Pricing: The Starter plan is $13,50 and the Plus plan is $17.95, while Business is $26.95. (All of these are per user, per month.) There’s also an Enterprise plan, but you need to call them up for a price.
8. Jitsi: Good for 1:1 meetings
This Google Hangouts alternative is unique in that it’s open source software that’s available for Linux systems. It’s mainly used for video calls and meetings, and uses high-security call encryption with SRTP and ZRTP for XMPP and SIP. s
If your business doesn’t need many other features than audio and video calling, then Jitsi may be a good choice for you,
But, if you do need more integrations and features, you may want to invest in more robust and well-rounded video conferencing software that has team messaging and file sharing. (These types of features also makes managing a remote team easier.)
Pricing: Jitsi is free.
Bluejeans is good for video conferencing, live streaming, and video calling. It’s also great for file sharing in high definition in 1080p, with a dual-screen for content sharing on one side, while video calling on the other.
Bluejeans is less commercially used than Telegram, for example. So, to call others you’d have to get them to join Bluejeans. And unfortunately for Bluejeans, users have experienced lagging with their software. One reviewer said, “The software itself is quite heavy and takes a lot of time to load and install thereby leading to wastage of resources and time.”
If you’ve got a busy day of meetings, the last thing you want is to be waiting around for slow software.
Pricing: The Standard plan is $9.99 and the Pro plan is $13.99—both per user, per month. For the Enterprise plan’s price, you’ll need to contact them so they can give you their best price.
Like the messaging app Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger has millions of users worldwide. And if you didn’t know, many people also use this for business communication! It’s understandable, because practically everyone has a Facebook account, the app can be used on Chrome and other web browsers—and it’s free:
You can send files, video call, and message with Facebook For Business. This can be particularly useful if you don’t want to invest in communication software because you’re a new or small business with a limited budget.
It’s a little too familiar for some users. One review states, “Most people associate Facebook with leisure and personal use. Facebook usage is usually discouraged during work, so having it branded with Facebook in the name is a turn off to executives”.
Pricing: Facebook Messenger is free.
Which Google Hangouts alternative will you be trying?
Now you’ve got a comprehensive list of Google Hangouts alternatives, will you be making the switch? For many, communication is one of the most important parts of everyday business. So, if your communication is sub-par, your team may find it difficult to work together. This could have a detrimental impact on your business.
That’s why investing in reliable software is vital for a small business that has a distributed team. Because without team messaging, phone calls, and HD video calling, keeping in touch can be very difficult. Making the transition as smooth as possible is key, so check out RingCentral and learn how it can help your business evolve the way you communicate!