Google Hangouts vs. Zoom: Which video-call service is better for you?

Google Meet
Google Meet (Image credit: Windows Central)

With working from home on the rise, it's important to have the right tools to keep your coworkers communicating.

Both of these apps have a slightly different focus, so the final decision comes down to what's most important to you. Zoom is certainly better catered to larger organizations and has better video and audio.

On the other hand, Google Hangouts has no time limit on calls at either free or paid tiers, and its integration with Google Apps could well make it the better choice, especially for smaller groups.

Google Hangouts vs. Zoom: Feature comparison

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Header Cell - Column 0 Google HangoutsZoom
ParticipantsUp to 25 (free)
Up to 100 (Hangouts Meet - enterprise)
Up to 100
PriceFree tier
From $6 per month (enterprise)
Free tier
From $15 a month per host (Zoom Pro)
Premium featuresHangouts Meet
Up to 100 participants
Included cloud storage
Skype for Business
Up to 24 hour call length
Cloud recording
PlatformsWindows 10
Mac
Linux
Chrome OS
Web
iOS
Android
Windows 10
Mac
Linux
Web
iOS
Android

Zoom is, technically, at least, more impressive than Hangouts, with a 100 person limit on calls at every tier, including the basic free one. Up to 49 of those people can be visible at one time, too, turning your call window into a giant mosaic of your colleagues. Zoom also provides HD video and audio at all tiers, including free, and there's no absolute requirement for a desktop app, though it's recommended. Zoom's web app lacks some of the features of the desktop client, which is a shame.

Where Zoom also falls down a little is the time limits imposed on calls. Even if you're paying, you have a time limit, so if your in need of keeping a 24/7 call open, especially if you're a newly remote working organization, the host will need to shut it down and start it back up again every day. On the free tier, it's even worse, with a 40-minute time limit on calls.

So, Zoom is perhaps a better choice for larger organizations with a large number of folks who all need to be able to dial in at the same time, but that will also be using the software to make frequent shorter calls.

Google Meet

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Hangouts, by contrast, has no time limit on calls at all, even on the free tier. So if you want to just, well, hang out with your co-workers throughout the whole workday, you can, and you don't need to hand over a penny for it. Google's free tier is more limited than Zoom on participants, capped at 25, but enterprise users with an active subscription open up access to Hangouts Meet, which has a cap of 100 people.

Video quality, in particular, isn't as hot, and you don't have all the customization and "fun" features you get with Zoom, but it gets the job done. The killer feature is that it's integrated into the Google suite of apps, both for consumers and enterprise, so if you have a Google account already then you have everything you need to make and join Hangouts calls.

Hangouts is a smarter choice for smaller organizations, in particular, thanks in no small part to the fact you can get almost everything Hangouts has to offer without spending anything at all.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.