How to Use Google Hangouts
One of the most exciting new developments in social media communication this year has been Google+’s new interactive communication feature, Google Hangouts.
Hangouts itself is not new – but Google has added the ability for everyone in the hangout to video conference and chat in multiple ways and freshened up its user interface for maximum ease of use.
Create Or Join Google Hangouts
You can create your own Hangout, or join an existing one. To find Hangouts, log into your Google account, go to Google+ and select hangouts from the left-hand, vertical menu. (Depending on your browser, you may have to go below the fold to find it.)
Once you click on the Hangouts icon, a main Hangouts page will open up. You’ll see featured Hangouts – and those streaming live, “On Air”.
Notice you can select featured Hangouts, start your own – or view the “What’s a hangout” walkthrough. If you’re not too familiar with them, or you haven’t bothered with Hangouts for several months, the first thing you should do is press “Learn more”.
Underneath “What’s a hangout?” You’ll find featured hangout apps.
If you click “launch” beside the YouTube app, a separate window popup offers to install the Hangouts plugin.
What you are doing is downloading Google voice and video chat so you can watch YouTube videos right inside your hangout. It takes a few seconds for the installation to verify, and then you are offered the chance to join a hangout.
It will then notify you that “YouTube needs your permission in order to start”. Press “Continue” and a new popup opens up. Click “Allow access” if you want to add YouTube video ability within hangouts.
This can be a powerful tool to keep fans and followers engaged, since you can instruct via a pre-made YouTube video – while being available for real-time questions and interaction from your “audience” (the others in the hangout with you).
You can also add YouTube videos to your playlist, which makes them easier to locate again.
You may have two different “featured apps” on your hangout page. Not to worry – Google+ is simply rotating apps. The truth is, a lot more apps have been added to help you make your hangout unique.
Other apps include:
- Google Docs – Allows you to edit your Google Doc file right within your hangout
- Slideshare – You can run Slideshare slide shows within your hangout
- Cacoo – Allows you to add a diagram within your Hangout
There are lots of other apps; many not slanted towards business. But if it increases engagement to hangout on Fridays with your group in silly virtual disguises, courtesy of Google Effects, then perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to add one or two more frivolous – or do we mean “creative” — apps. (You really have to consider your audience.)
But don’t waste time hunting for apps yet: Up Your Plus demonstrates a variety of Hangout apps – including Brian’s fetching pirate hat and moustache courtesy of Google Effects in this short YouTube video.
One last thing you need to know about apps: You can only use one at a time in any Hangout.
Step 1. Using YouTube Videos in Hangouts
The YouTube Hangout app is one you’ll get used to very quickly, but let’s take a look at its quirks, so you can decide before downloading if it’s a good fit for your social networking.
- Participants are muted by default while a video is playing. You can toggle talk on and off, if you want to speak to other participants
- You can search within the hangout without the other participants seeing your results
- The YouTube app will not work with Hangouts on Air – live, streaming Hangouts
- Videos added to the playlist will play in sequence, unless manually handled
- Works only on the latest versions of three particular browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer
Google Hangouts Summary
So far we have learned that Google has added video conferencing and the ability to chat with everyone. With addition of a plugin you can watch YouTube videos inside your hangout. You can join existing hangouts or create your own.