As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

Summary: Keep an eye on the features in Hangouts for a sense of how Google+ might be going after more than just Facebook

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It's "put up or shut up" time for Google+ now that the social network - which is widely viewed as the biggest threat to Facebook's dominance - has unlocked the front door for everyone. And from what the company has done in its first few hours of making G+ a publicly available service suggests that Google is bringing its A-game - and not just going after Facebook.

The service started strong and took off fast as tech bloggers and geeks galore started singing its praises - myself included. Since then, I've only grown fonder of it - and Facebook has been scrambling to keep up and stay relevant. For example, the concept of circles - creating them, filtering by them and easily posting to them - was so great that Facebook followed suit by revamping its "Lists" feature.

But Hangouts - video chats between 10 users on Google+ - is where we get a sense of how much A-game Google has. In its post announcing the public rollout of Google, the company highlighted some pretty cool new features for Hangouts:

  • Mobile Hangouts for Android (and coming soon to iOS) doesn't just go after the Facebook model here. This is a one-up on Apple's Facetime - which offers one-on-one mobile video conversations.
  • Hangouts On-Air gives users the ability to create instant webcasts over Google+, opening the viewership of a hangout session to an even larger audience. When I read about it, the first thing that popped into my head was YouTube with a live stream.
  • Hangouts with Extras allows users to share documents, share a scratchpad and share their screens with other users. Document collaboration goes to the heart of what companies like Salesforce and Microsoft are trying to offer to business users while screensharing has potential to be a breakthrough feature for tutorials or IT support.

Google+ saw some incredible growth in its first 90 days. Sure, critics pointed out that registrations may have been high but that usage was pretty limited to a select audience of geeks. These new features will likely resonate well with non-techies and give them reason to give the service a try - especially younger users who embrace video technology and mobile tools as a means of communication.

Whether or not it takes off and can live in harmony with Facebook, Twitter and Even Apple's Facetime - or whether it will become a bigger disruption to any of their models - has yet to be seen. But if Google keeps innovating and welcoming more tools and features from the app developers, it could change the way people work, play and communicate in the future.

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Topics: Social Enterprise, Apps, Google

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14 comments
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  • chuckle.....

    Nope.
    Not till they fix the name issue.......
    rhonin
    • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

      @rhonin Ditto, /signed, and all that.
      najwalaylah
  • Whats the big deal about Circles??

    I have been using facebook Lists quite successfully to segregate my activities between close friends, family, work and limited profiles.<br><br>Why is Circles seen as the next great innovation from Google??
    DontBeEvil
    • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

      @DontBeEvil Maybe it came after G+ circles as a copycat? I am not sure about the timing though.
      prasanna_vps
      • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

        @prasanna_vps Facebook had it's lists feature for years so it's not a copy of circles. The lists feature was revamped though and that revamp came after G+ so there is not telling if it was planned or as a reaction to circles.
        athynz
    • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

      @DontBeEvil

      Because when google + came out, it had and still has circles. After google + came out, facebook then incorporated the same idea as circles, but renamed it as lists. Both in fact do the same thing, limiting the audience in a more positive way.
      clikonco
      • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

        @clikonco: Facebook has had Lists for years but the recent update has finally made them useful. They're now on the homepage, whereas before you had to delve into "Edit Friends" to see them.
        bradavon
  • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

    Google+ is great, better than Facebook (which is so bloated it's insane, checking out how much memory it uses in Chrome's task manager shows that) and these new Google+ features look excellent . . .

    But whilst a handful of friends are on Google+ none of them are using it and I mean a handful. Until the people I actually want to communicate with start using Google+ these changes mean very little.
    bradavon
    • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

      @bradavon Personally I feel that Facebook is much better than G+ but that could be because very few of my friends are active on it and much more active on Facebook.
      athynz
  • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

    if i want to hang out, I'll do it for real! LOL
    silverdoe
    • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

      @silverdoe

      I was thinking the same thing.
      bobiroc
    • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

      @silverdoe They should have named it HangIn... oh wait... :O
      xpect
  • RE: As Google+ opens to everyone, Hangouts get boost to challenge more than Facebook

    Activated my G+ account yesterday using my GMAIL account. So far I am not impressed. Of course I just started using it and need to poke around some more.

    I find that the "friend" suggestions are filling up with people I have no idea who they are. I see that it grabbed some names from my GMAIL address book but there are hundreds of random people that I have to constantly hide.

    The Circle set up is annoying so far but maybe I need to get used to it more.

    Basically it doesn't seem to offer me anything over Facebook at this point.

    It will be interesting to see how G+ and FB battle for the social network crown and I think G+ has a lot of catching up to do more than just the user base.
    bobiroc
  • Link Hangouts to Gmail

    How to connect hangouts to Gmail.I still dont understand this hangouts thing and I still dont have google plus.Is this open to everyone or is it in beta stage?

    <a href="http://www.w-e-b-mail.com">log into gmail</a>
    Angry Birds