Over the past few weeks I’ve caught @Sorgatron and friends in a Google+ Hangout. At first I thought the experience was “meh,” but after using it a few times I’ve come to understand how cool it is.
First off it is incredibly easy to use. There is a plugin that you need to install but the process is painless. After that step starting or joining a Hangout is as simple as a click. I was in a few rooms with multiple people who were coming and going. There was no lag and surprisingly no feedback when using on board speakers and microphone.
Another great feature is watching YouTube in line with the group chat. Anyone can initiate a YouTube video and then the audio switches to a walkie-talkie mode, presumably to handle audio feedback, and everyone watches the video at the same time. What a great way to capture all your friends faces of two girls one cup at the same time (too soon?).
I’ve been told the limitation to a single hangout is 10 people. I wonder if there is a way to have passive viewers once the video chat fills up. Could be a great seamless way to handle conference calls in the future.
The Facebook Strikes Back
Ever since I’ve been using Google+ I’ve wondered how long until Facebook does something to copy or simplify their network. In an article from Fast Company, earlier this year (I think this one), I read that Google doesn’t set out to take over other markets with their side projects. Rather they intent to keep pressure in different areas to increase competition and prevent companies from becoming stagnate and force innovation. Android and Chrome are good examples of this type of Google project and now Google+ can be added to the list.
If you think about it this approach makes a lot of sense for Google. Forcing the rest of the world to keep up with your or become lost in the pace of industry is very profitable for Google. They want people to have better access to the web all the time. So if modern browsers or Mobile OS start to suck then people may use the web less and search less. Because all roads online cross at Google somewhere.
So, Google+ is a new player in the social network realm and Facebook is already responding. In a partnership with Skype you can now do video chat in Facebook. Although in my limited experience it wasn’t as smooth as the Hangout. Also I don’t know if you can have multiple people in the same chat or if there is a Skype membership option like the regular service.