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Google adds Hangouts feature from Google+ to its business apps

The search giant is giving Google Apps customers access to its videoconferencing feature, no Google+ account needed.

Google Hangouts CNET

Google announced on Wednesday that it's untethering its Hangouts video chat feature from the company's Google+ social network and more deeply integrating it into Google's suite of apps for business users.

The company said anyone with a customer account with Google Apps -- the search giant's service aimed at enterprise users -- will now be able to use the feature, which lets multiple users in different locations chat over a video feed at one time. Google Apps customers will be able to use the service even if they don't have a Google+ account.

As part of the move, Hangouts will receive the same support that the enterprise versions of Gmail and Google Docs get. That includes 24-7 phone support and a 99.9 guarantee against service outages. Business users will also be able to conduct video sessions with 15 people on the call with high-definition quality.

This isn't the first time the company has taken a popular Google+ feature and made it available outside the fledgling social network. Last week, Google added the ability to make calls to the Web version of Google Voice. This means that users don't need a Google+ account, just their original Google email log-in, to place calls.