I’ve been a huge fan of hangouts on Google+ from the moment they were offered. I probably hop on a hangout once or twice a week; I do it to keep in touch with friends, I do it for work meetings because you can do screen sharing more easily with Google hangouts, and I do it professionally for interviews and the occasional webinar.
It is absolutely one of the best free tools on the web.
If you’ve forgotten, Google Hangouts allow for free video conferencing with up to ten different people. These hangouts can be public or private, recorded or not recorded, and with the Hangouts On Air feature can be used to broadcast to multiple users.
It’s pretty cool.
Today Google announced a few changes and improvements that range from the fabulous (background editing, scheduled hangouts on air, and an alternative SMS service) to the frivolous (silly fake backgrounds and GIF support) in a blog post today.
Hangouts enable conversations among close friends, as well as broadcasts with the entire world. Today we’re improving both:
Hangouts for Android now supports location sharing and SMS. This way you can send a map of your current location (vs. finding and typing an address), and you can send and receive SMS (vs. switching between apps). Animated GIFs also play inline.
Broadcasters can now schedule Hangouts On Air, then promote them with a dedicated watch page. Once you’re live, Control Room lets you moderate the conversation with eject and remote mute.
In both cases, the video calling experience is significantly improved. It’s now full screen across mobile and desktop, and it fixes and enhances webcam lighting automatically.
Pretty cool stuff. I’m actually hoping to schedule a Google hangout with my siblings sometime soon (they live in Shreveport, Santa Fe, Tacoma, and Moriarty, New Mexico). It’s the cheapest way for all of us to be together at one time!
You can read all about the latest updates here.