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Google Hangouts Meet expands the company’s real-time communication platform. (Google Image)

Google this morning expanded its Hangouts real-time communications platform with the announcement of two new services: Hangouts Meet, a new video meeting experience; and Hangouts Chat, a communication app for teams with threaded conversations and dedicated virtual rooms.

Hangouts Chat is a direct challenger to Slack and the new Microsoft Teams, as well as Amazon’s recently announced Chime — intensifying the competition in this already hotly contested corner of the technology market. It’s part of a broader push by Google to expand further into the enterprise technology market.

Chat could appeal to existing Google G Suite users thanks to integration with Google services including Drive and Docs, plus advanced search features. It also includes a bot called @meet that lets users use natural language to automatically schedule meetings. With Hangouts Meet, the company is promising to simplify the process of joining online meetings, supporting video conferences with as many as 30 people.

Google says Hangouts Meet is generally available today, and Chat is available in private beta through Google’s Early Adopter program.

Google announced pricing and availability of its Jamboard digital whiteboard. (Google Image)

Google also announced pricing for its Jamboard 55-inch digital whiteboard, saying it will be available starting in May for $4,999 and a $600 annual management and support fee. Microsoft’s competing 55-inch Surface Hub starts at $8,999.

The news was announced on the second day of the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco Thursday morning.

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