Disabling Google’s “Video Call” default in Google Apps (admin instructions)

Google are know for their ship early, ship often, which in many ways is “ship something that is buggy and not very user friendly, and then iterate like crazy, learning from how your users fail with your product to make it better”. The best known example of this was Gmail (famously in beta for over 5 years), but I think the clearest example of “launching shit and unusable and push it hard anyway” is Google Hangouts.

Unfortunately, Google’s efforts to push Hangouts before they’re ready is now going beyond just pitch meetings with Google Ventures or merging flaky Hangouts with SMS functionality on Android – now they’re getting in the way of business, and that just isn’t good enough.

Last week Google introduced a new default feature for Google Apps Calendar – when you create a new event, it will automatically add a link to the Google Hangout for the meeting “to save time and reduce last minute confusion and delays”. This is bullshit.

I’ve been using Google Calendar for almost a decade, and I’ve never forgotten to add a link to a service I’ve never wanted to use, but now Google is pushing Hangouts down our throats in Calendar we’re seeing real confusion – our users are now clicking on links to Hangouts in Calendar entries rather than the GoToWebinar or Join.me links we actually use.

Not to mention the prospective confusion of meeting for a coffee and them seeing the Hangout link. Yeah, time saving my arse.

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Unfortunately, your users can’t disable this feature themselves – only the admin can turn it off (or back on again) for everyone in your account. They didn’t make it easy to find or do though – so after some Monday morning frustration, I decided to get some screenshots and post the instructions here. Enjoy.

Turning it off via the Google Apps Admin Console

Of course, with Google Apps’ new “Look, it is like Windows 8 – everything is easier to use because you can’t find it” Admin panel, turning off this feature isn’t as easy as it should be. So, here’s how.

1. Head to the “Advanced settings” for Calendar in Google Apps

Simply substitute YOURDOMAIN with your actual Google Apps domain:

https://admin.google.com/YOURDOMAIN/AdminHome?pli=1&fral=1#AppDetails:service=Calendar&flyout=sharing

Once you’re there, you can disable this annoying “feature” and save your preferences.

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2. Reload your Google Calendar for the change to take effect

Just saving the change won’t apply until you refresh the browser window that Google Calendar is in. You DO NOT need to log off or do any special cache clearing. Win.

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