Hangouts in Google Plus is a pretty exciting technology which adds a unique color to the social network. For example, users can discuss over a PowerPoint presentation from their Google Docs account and every member participating in the hangout gets to see it in real time. Then you can also pull in a YouTube video and every member can watch the video and exchange text messages from the same page.The user interface of Google Plus Hangout is far better than any web based group video chat app I have ever seen. I have used Facebook’s video calling feature but Google Plus hangouts still remains a close favorite.
The good news is that Google will be rolling out screen sharing support in Google Plus hangouts within a day or two. This is confirmed after Christopher Johnson, a UX designer who works at Google, announced the following on his Google Plus profile:
When we launched Hangouts with extras last September, we wanted to test new features and get feedback from users. We’ve learned a lot over the past few months, and today we’re rolling out a new Hangouts look and feel that incorporates some of the “extras,” and better reflects Google’s overall design. Highlights include:
- Screen sharing: share what’s on your computer screen with everyone in the hangout. This is the first of many extras we’re graduating to Hangouts.
- Bigger video: we’ve put more emphasis on the live video itself by optimizing white space and other screen elements.
Here is how the screen sharing UI of Google Plus hangouts looks like:
This takes screen sharing and online collaboration to a whole new level, given the fact that users can also join a Google Plus hangout from their mobile device (iOS, for example). From now on, conducting online meetings would be much more simpler, as Google Plus hangouts have a “social” nature that broadcasts itself. Google Plus hangout is not a Skype alternative yet, you can’t share files or send entire folders to remote participants and neither you can call a phone number from your desktop. But its free and gets the job done for many, doesn’t it?
The best part: you can provide remote assistance to your rookie friends who have never heard of Skype, Teamviewer, Join.me or a remote desktop application. Please note that Google Plus hangouts will only allow you to see the shared screen, not command full control over it (like Teamviewer does).
If your organization needs a decent free solution for online collaboration, tech support or remote assistance, you might want to give Google Plus Hangouts a spin. It is indeed getting better after each update.