Hangouts may be fun, but it's not all fun and games. It should come as no surprise that in this day and age, many people turn to Google's video chats as a means of getting work done. So the company is rolling out a number of business-related improvements to the service.
For starters, the company is now covering Hangouts under the same terms of service as other Google Apps for Business products.
It's 2013, and chances are that someone has asked you to make a Skype video chat at some point or another. This isn't too all-consuming on PCs, where a user can fire up their webcam and tuck the Skype client away in the corner. Anyone using an Android device, on the other hand, has had to devote the entire screen to the conversation. But thanks to the latest Skype update, many of us will be freed from the burden of giving a video chat our undivided attention, as we will now have the ability to tuck the entire session away into the corner.
It's been a long time coming, but Google's distributed video advice service is finally live. Helpouts is a video chat service with a Google backbone, built on the interface and servers of Hangouts. But this is no mere chat service: it's designed specifically for users to connect with and learn from experts in their respective field. You can access the videos from the web or, naturally, the Android app.
Since you'll be connecting with individuals and companies that are ostensibly experts, you'll have to pay them for their time, either on a minute-by-minute basis or in a session fee.
If case you don't remember, Google announced Helpouts back in August. It's a different take on Hangouts where experts can make their assistance available via a video chat session for a fee or free of charge. Google has been laying the groundwork for a public rollout of the service, but no dates have been made official. We've been passed some information by a trusted source that says November 5th is the big day – that's just one week away.
Some of you may have already noticed that your Hangouts video looked significantly clearer the last time you fired it up. That's because Google has transitioned from the H.264 video codec to VP8, and with it, the company has introduced HD streaming. Google started rolling out the change to users in the last few weeks, but it will still be a while before this rolls out to everyone.
Google introduced VP8 back in 2010 as an open and royalty-free format allowing users to watch video in browsers without the need for any additional plugins.
Have you ever been stumped by a problem that's clearly outside your wheelhouse? Perhaps you've even fantasized about being able to just dial up an expert to pick their big meaty brain about the problem. That's exactly what Google has just announced with Helpouts. It's a cunning play on words, you see. It's like a Hangout, but it's used to help people. Google is clever.
The idea behind Helpouts is that folks with a certain area of expertise will set up an account with their skills, qualifications, availability, and rate.
Google has released an update to its social network app on Android today that should please Hangout enthusiasts both young and old. For starters, now you can join Hangouts on Air via your mobile device (like the one we use to broadcast our weekly podcast every Thursday at 8pm EST hint hint). This is fantastic news as Hangouts on Air are among the most useful application of the already-awesome Hangouts feature.
So, you bought that fancy new Nexus S/DROID Charge/Galaxy S II/G2X/Flyer with a front-facing camera, and you were excited to make video calls. Then you noticed there isn't any native video chat client for Android (yet - Talk will have this integrated soon). Then you heard about fring, which is pretty cool. Then you tried to install it, only to discover it didn't work. Then you probably had a sad.
While roaming around Google I/O and looking for answers to numerous questions you guys posed, I ran into Wei Huang, the tech lead on Google Talk for Android. Yup, the same guy who announced video chat two weeks ago on the Google Mobile blog. Here are some questions I had for Wei, echoing many of you guys:
Is video chat coming to other devices than the Nexus S and if so, when?
On Monday we told you that Google may bring video chat to Android 2.3.4, and that we expect an announcement at Google I/O. It looks like we got it half right - Google has officially announced Talk with Video Chat integration in Android 2.3.4, but we didn't have to wait until I/O to find out.
The service looks like it will work almost identical to its desktop counterpart: the status icon displays whether or not the person is available for video chat (or capable of it).