Google Chat adds support for external conversations

You can now start conversations in Google Chat (previously known as Hangouts Chat) with people outside of your domain. You’ll be able to do this by either sending a direct message or adding them to rooms. Conversations with external users in classic Hangouts will also appear in Chat as new messages are sent.

Whether you’re talking to customers, coordinating with a vendor, or trying to keep in touch with your students’ parents, you’ll now be able to use Google Chat with your key contacts. With this change, you can keep all of your communication in one central place.

To use Google Chat, people outside your domain need to have a Google Account. These users will have an “external” badge in Chat, so you’ll be sure you’re sharing information with the right people. Additionally, you’ll need to designate a room as “External” when you create it and you won’t be able to change this setting after the room is created. This means you won’t be able to add external users to any rooms created before this launch, as those will remain “internal.” While you can add external users to a room in Chat, you cannot include external users in a group chat.

This feature will respect your existing “Chat externally” setting which will apply to both classic Hangouts and Google Chat going forward. It can be controlled at the organisational unit (OU) or domain level. You’ll also be able to control whether users can create and join external Rooms within your organisation through the “External Rooms” setting in the Admin console.

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