Five Google+ Hangouts Features Businesses Will Love | IDG. (No longer available online. Original text included below.)
Though only six months old, Google+ is catching on quickly. Not only has Google weaved Google+ into its existing services, but it has created new features as well. One of those is Hangouts, a multi-user video chat tool that while free, competes well with other video conferencing tools like Skype. Today, Google extended Hangouts features, making it even more appealing, especially to businesses. Here are five of the new Hangout features that will appeal to businesses.
1. Go Live
It’s not uncommon to post something on Google+ and have a number of comments follow, to the point that it becomes a discussion. When the discussion reaches a point where you want to move off the “long-form” and have a live, face-to-face discussion, all Google+ posts now contain a “Hangout” option at the bottom of the post. Click it and others that can see the post will be notified that you’ve started a Hangout, and they’re invited to participate.
2. On Air Broadcasting
Though still in limited testing with celebrities, public figures, and Google+ “power users”, On Air is expanding to eventually be available for all Google+ users. On Air allows a Hangout to become a broadcast instead of a conference. This is great when you want to share your message with more than 10 people, which is the standard cap on a Hangout. This could be a great way to make stock holder meetings, press conferences, or product announcements available to your clients and customers.
3. On Air Recording
If you’ve done an On Air broadcast, chances are some of your audience missed parts of it, or even the entire event. To help with this, On Air broadcasts are now recorded and uploaded privately to your YouTube account, where you can share the video as you wish. This will allow you to build a library of content that your clients and customers can access on-demand.
4. Dial In
Hangouts started as a great way to video conference between computers. Google then added the ability to join a Hangout from a mobile phone with a front facing camera, making it possible for workers on the road with the right equipment to participate as well. The new update to Hangouts extends this flexibility to now allow anyone with a phone to call into a Hangout and participate audibly. This makes Hangouts a great tool for group meetings, even when not everyone in the group is in the office at the time.
Hangouts are great, but until now you only became aware of them by seeing a notification on your Google+ screen. The new update not only shows up to three live hangouts on the right side of your Google+ stream, it also ring your device to let you know you’ve been invited. This strengthens the ability to use Hangouts for group meetings, with those you invite being aware of the Hangout, and those wanting to participate assured they’ll have an invite.
These five additions to Hangouts make it a highly appealing tool for businesses. With its dual role as both a broadcast service and a small group chat service, companies of any size will find it useful. Combine it with other Google+ features, and the popular YouTube video site, and it could be the easiest, cheapest, and most powerful way for a business to have a presence on the web today. Has your company tried Hangouts yet?