Google Chat is now available as a Progressive Web App
Google has a long tumultuous relationship with messaging apps and its latest fling is with Google Chat. Previously known as Hangouts Chat, Google Chat is the company’s Slack-like team communication platform for G Suite users. It’s not to be confused with “Classic” Hangouts or the long-dead “GChat.” Google is now releasing an updated desktop client for Chat.
The new Google Chat desktop app is a progressive web app (PWA), and it replaces the old Electron client. Electron apps are essentially web apps with a wrapper and some users don’t really like them. A PWA, on the other hand, is basically a webpage that integrates with the device’s OS, making it feel more like a native app. Google has long been a big advocate for PWAs, so it’s no surprise to see this development.
The Google Chat app has wider compatibility as it can work on Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, and Linux. However, you must have Chrome 73 or higher or another browser that supports PWAs installed to use it. If you’re using Chrome, then it doesn’t need to be your default browser although it will need to be installed on your device. Google does mention, however, that they are working on fixing that limitation.
While Google Chat is limited to G Suite customers right now, the company has shown signs of making it available to everyone. Google recently opened up its Zoom competitor, Meet, to anyone with a Google account. It also recently made it possible to view Classic Hangouts conversations in Google Chat. The groundwork could be in place to make it available to all Google users.
This article was updated at 6:40 PM EST on May 28, 2020 to correct information about the release history of the Google Chat desktop client and the availability of the new PWA.