Google Rolls Out Hangout Improvements Per User Request
May 8, 2013

Google Rolls Out Hangout Improvements Per User Request

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google yesterday announced some improvements to their Hangout chat service, including immediate publishing and live rewind for On Air hangouts. Google Hangouts are essentially the modern chatroom, allowing small groups of people to engage in a video chat or large groups of people to take part in an online event. These larger events are called On Air Hangouts and are the subject of these new improvements. Google has been pushing Hangouts lately in many of their different products, and it´s most notably present as one of the main features of Google Glass and Google+. The search giant said these improvements have been “highly-requested” by users.

“Have you ever missed the beginning of a live Hangout On Air and wanted to rewind?” asks the Google+ page announcing these new features.

“How about viewing and sharing your recording right after your broadcast, versus waiting for "processing“¦"? Today we're launching these, and two other features, to improve your Hangouts On Air experience.”

Much like live TV before the days of the DVR, users were previously unable to rewind or restart On Air Hangouts. This meant tardy participants or those who suddenly found themselves with other pressing concerns would miss the live action. Now, according to Google, users can rewind and restart this stream no matter when they start watching. Google has even taken this one step further by posting these On Air recordings immediately to YouTube.

In the olden days of On Air Hangouts, publishers and very tardy viewers would have to wait for a time for the video to process before it would become available online. This new improvement allows publishers to begin instantly sharing links to their previously-recorded On Air Hangout. Even those viewers who don´t arrive until the very end of the broadcast will be able to watch the Hangout immediately after it´s concluded.

Google has also improved the quality of these videos, something which should be particularly appreciated by those who watch On Air Hangouts on mobile devices. Until recently, mobile users had to endure grainy video, either on the sending or the viewing end of the stream.

Finally, this set of improvements allows viewers to begin watching an On Air Hangout without refreshing the page. Though it seems primitive, until yesterday, Hangout viewers had to visit the page where the On Air event was set to happen and refresh the page when the event began. Now these videos will simply start playing when the broadcast begins.

“As part of these enhancements, it may take longer to set up your Hangout On Air,” reads the Google+ announcement.

“For example: the 'Start broadcasting' button may be grayed out for a bit, before it turns red. Nothing to worry about, this is just us getting everything in place before you go live.”

Google has been pushing the Hangout capabilities in Google Glass in recent months. Even those earliest of adopters, the Glass Explorers, have been putting this feature to the test, inviting their friends on Google+ to join Hangouts as they go about their daily lives. Hangouts are just another way in which Glass is a visually focused piece of hardware. While Glass also operates as a companion device to a smartphone, it´s main focus is on point of view photos and videos as well as Google+ Hangouts.