May 4, 2012

Google+ Hangouts Can Now Call You Back, Tell You What They're All About

The most distinguishing aspect of Google+ is Hangouts, the multi-person intelligent video chat tool that allows screen sharing, simultaneous YouTube viewing, collaborative document editing, and more. It makes natural sense for Google to dedicate a lot of engineering power to keep Hangouts appealing and competitive. Therefore, it's not surprising to see Google push out two Hangout updates within hours of each other.

Hangout Topics

When starting a Hangout, you now have the ability to write in a "topic" to help people know what your hangout is about. You can change the topic at any point during the hangout as well, although, this will not update the original Google+ post.

Hangout Call Back

Google has built Hangouts to be more casual than typical video conferencing. You just start a hangout, invite some circles, sit back and see what happens. This approach has its pros and cons, of course. On one hand, there is a service like Skype, where you either pick up and start the chat, or you don't pick up, and that stops the affair dead in its tracks. On the other hand, you've got Hangouts, where you can invite a bunch of people, talk with some of them, have people wander in and out, and then just bail when you get bored. The downside here is that a person you invited may join the Hangout after you've already left. Enter: Hangout call back feature! Made for just such an occasion, the call back feature will call the person who started the Hangout if someone joins after they've left.