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OPLIN 4Cast #237: New Hangouts

Posted in 4cast

Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from the Internet, radio, TV, and print media for the past week or so, you’ve heard about Google+, the new social media project that will compete with Facebook. You may not have heard much, however, about the group video chat service, called Hangouts, that’s part of the Google+ project. And even if you have heard about Hangouts, you might not know about the technology that runs it—but there’s a lot going on in the background of Hangouts that could finally bring group video meetings into the mainstream. If you’ve ever tried to use current free video chat services for a serious meeting (we have), you know that there is room for improvement. Google may have just done that.

  • Google+ Hangouts video chat could challenge Skype (PCWorld/Brennon Slattery)  “Google+ Hangouts can hold 10 people in the same video chat room simultaneously. While Skype 5.0 Beta 2 can do the same, video conferencing on Skype requires a Premium membership that ranges from $4.49 to $8.99 per month. Worse yet, Skype 5.0 Beta 2 is Windows-only at the moment, whereas Google+ Hangouts, like Gmail video chat, is browser-based and doesn’t discriminate against any OS or requires an additional download.”
  • Announcing Google+ Hangouts (juberjabber/Justin Uberti)  “To support Hangouts, we built an all-new standards-based cloud video conferencing platform. This platform combines high quality, low latency, and strong security with the ease of use of a web application. Through the efficiency of this new platform, we’re able to deliver a leading video conferencing experience at Google scale.”
  • The technology behind Google+ Hangouts (GigaOM/Janko Roettgers)  “This is where things get really interesting: Hangout’s cloud-based architecture and its upcoming browser integration will eventually make it possible to deliver an optimized group video chat experience to a whole range of devices. Desktop users will get to view full HD video, users on mobile devices will receive optimized streams to deal with bandwidth issues. And Google TV users could see Hangouts appear on their TV sets sooner than they think, because Google TV comes with a full-blown Chrome browser.”
  • Google+ Hangouts: the next new virtual interview technology (AvidCareerist/Donna Svei)  “Of greatest interest to job seekers? Google+ Hangouts—free instant video conferencing with up to 10 participants. Expect some recruiters to start scheduling your virtual interviews here. And… job hunt clubs are most effective with a group of peers. Now you aren’t limited to your home town.”

Techie fact:
Hangouts will use the WebRTC framework for realtime communications, an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla, and Opera.