Hangouts Basics and Advanced

As you become more comfortable with Google+ you might want to explore some of the tools like the video-chat feature which Google calls Hangouts. Some are using Google Plus Hangouts to collaborate on projects, teach others new skills, share information, or simply to hangout.

Install the Hangouts Plugin

Before you can access Hangouts you have to have install the plugin, which you’ll find here: http://www.google.com/tools/dlpage/res/talkvideo/hangouts/

Now, when I hit the “install plugin” button I had zero issues. The plugin installed instantly in a matter of seconds; however I’ve heard that for some people installing the plugin was a bit of a hassle. I can’t say what your experience will be like when you install the plugin, but I can say that the video-chat feature is pretty fun and worth the effort.

How to Start a Hangout

You can start a hangout at any point while on Google+ simply by clicking the “start a hangout” button in the right sidebar. It’s next to the yellow video camera image. Or, go here to begin a hangout: https://plus.google.com/hangouts/

In a few short seconds you will see a video feed of yourself. Then:

  1. Check to make sure your microphone is working. Do this by speaking a few words and watching for green volume-bars to appear to the right of the microphone image.
  2. Check your hair, teeth, face. Make sure you’re happy with your appearance before you hit the “hangout” button.
  3. Invite people from your circles to the hangout by hitting the “add more people” button. You can also add individuals by typing +name of those you want to invite.
  4. Hit the “hangout” button.

Voice Recognition Technology

You can hangout with up to 10 people at one time, but have you ever been in a room full of people where everyone was talking at once? I have and it’s kind of annoying, but Google has anticipated this problem – of everyone talking at once, by leveraging voice recognition technology. What this means is, when one person is talking everyone else is automatically muted so that only one person can talk at a time. This helps reduce the confusion and increase the fun of hanging out together.

Google’s voice recognition technology not only mutes those who aren’t talking it also enlarges the face of the one who is doing the talking. This means that the face of the person who is talking fills up the bulk of the screen while those who are listening are pictured in small images down toward the bottom of the screen.

I really like the Hangouts feature on Google+ and I’ve seen more and more people using the tool in really creative ways. I’ve read of musicians giving intimate performances over Hangouts, educators collaborating on projects, and knitters working on patterns “together” from the comfort of their own homes. There’s even a website where you can register to take cooking classes from chefs from all over the world. It’s called ChefHangouts.

I think of all the Google+ features, Hangouts has the greatest potential for changing the way we experience life. Hangouts can open exciting new opportunities for those who are housebound as well as for those whose time is incredibly limited. I could see Hangouts becoming a new way for folks to relax and engage – a form of interactive entertainment.

Some things to Keep in Mind with Hangouts

  • 10 Max: Although you may invite several circles to join you in a hangout, the limit is 10 people max. When someone attempts to join a hangout where 10 people are already participating, they will be told that the hangout is full.
  • Invite More: Even though the hangout has begun, you can still invite more people to join in – as long as you haven’t yet reached the 10 people limit.
  • Anyone can Invite: Even if you were the one who initiated the hangout, anyone can invite others to join in. This means that someone who’s not in any of your circles might get invited to join. When this happens you’re participation in the hangout is paused – you’ll even see a pause button appear on your screen. This lets you decide if you’re comfortable hanging out with the new person or if you’d prefer to discretely exit the hangout.
  • Blocking People: You can block people that you don’t want to hangout with, but keep in mind this removes them from your circles and prevents you from interacting with them in any way – at least until you unblock them.
  • Youtube Viewing: Sometimes it’s fun to just hangout and watch a video with friends. Since Google owns Youtube they’ve set it up so that you can watch Youtube videos with those you’re “hanging out with” on g+.

Note: Those who are younger than 18 are automatically blocked from viewing rate R content.

The great thing is, you can initiate a hangout or you can join an existing hangout. To find a hangout to join go to: http://gphangouts.com/#

Google Hangouts isn’t just for the English speaking world. In fact, Google has made Hangouts available in more than 35 different languages including Greek, Portuguese, and Japanese.

For the complete course please go here

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