Today Google announced that Google Plus Hangouts video chat is getting an upgrade. As our readers know, Hangouts has long been one of the best features Google Plus has to offer, with up to 10 people in a single video chat at once--we're even holding our monthly ReelSEO writers' call on Hangouts. And now some new enhancements and features look to make Hangouts even more useful.
Google Plus Hangouts Upgrade Lets You Turn Posts Into Hangouts
Google believes that the content (images, video, text) people post in their Google Plus Stream often serves as kindling for the kind of conversation Hangouts is perfect for. So they're adding the ability to turn any post into a live Hangouts at the click of a button with a "Hangout" link. Check it out:
This ability also extends to mobile users, who can now tap a Hangout icon on their Google Plus Messenger app to start a session.
Live Hangouts Closer To Opening Up For Everyone
For some time now there have been select Google Plus users (like The Muppets) who have been able to take a Hangout session and turn it into a live broadcast using the On Air portion of Hangouts. While the service is still being developed and tested, Google says they're moving toward a more general rollout with some new moves:
- Even more public figures, celebrities, and Google Plus users who have large followings will now be able to make use of On Air. This is basically saying they're increasing the testing size as development moves into the next phase.
- Also, On Air is now self-service, which means users can set up and begin On Air broadcasts without any assistance or coordination from YouTube.
- Broadcasts are now ripped straight to YouTube when you're done. So after you're On Air session wraps, you'll find a recording of it in your YouTube account (set to private until you're ready to open it up to everyone).
Free Hangout-To-Phone Voice Calls
Maybe you'd like to use Hangouts to chat with friends and family who don't have a webcam. If so, you're in luck. You can now dial any phone number directly from Google Hangouts. Calls in the U.S. and Canada are free, and international calls have "super, super low" rates.
This is awesome, and I've already tested it out once or twice, and it works perfectly.
Google Plus Hangout Invite Notices
If you get invited to a Hangout, but you're not at your desk, you'll now get a notification to your mobile device (assuming you're using the Google Plus app) to let you know you've been extended an invitation.
Just in time for Christmas, Google is adding an "antlers and red nose" effect, perfect for adding holiday flavor to your Hangouts: