Circles might be the foundation of Google+, but Hangouts are undoubtedly its biggest selling point. Hangouts one-up pretty much every other social network out there by enabling effortless video conversation between up to ten people for free. Now, Google has announced a bunch of new features that will make Hangouts even more compelling.
Going forward, Hangouts will be embedded into all posts in order to encourage impromptu conversations among friends and acquaintances over a common topic. By clicking on the new Hangout button below posts, users will be able to post their Hangout invitations as a comment. This feature will be available on the web, as well as in the mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Google is also making it possible to add people, who aren’t online, to Hangouts by calling them up. Calls made to US and Canada are completely free, while other international calls are remarkably cheap.
The “Hangouts on Air” feature that has been used by celebrities like the Black Eyed Peas to share performances will be expanded to hundreds of other Google+ users with a large following. Going on air is as simple as creating a new Hangout with broadcast and record option enabled. Once the performance or conversation is over, Google will automatically upload a full-length private copy of the event to YouTube.
Finally, Google is making it harder than before to ignore Hangout invitations. Not only will they show up in your stream, but will also occupy a prominent permanent place in the Google+ sidebar, and notify you on your mobile if you aren’t online from a desktop.