We've always been keen on Google+ Hangouts, but a recent update provided some extras that make the experience even better. Now you can share your screen, collaborate in Google Docs, and even draw together in SketchUp.Additionally, the Hangouts API provides developers with the ability to integrate Hangouts into their own web apps. This could become a very interesting way to not only collaborate on work, but also share media and play games with other people across the web.
To see a demonstration of the new features, check out the video above or just read on for more information.
Google+ Hangouts with Extras now provides a means of sharing your screen. You can share the entire screen or just one window. While there's currently no option for others to control your screen remotely, you can see everything the other person is doing. This is great for presentations or even a little hands-off tech support with friends and family.
Google Docs Integration
Google Docs is already a great way to collaborate, but adding a video component makes that collaboration feel much more like a live discussion than just simple text-based chat. When you're hosting a hangout, you can create a new doc on the fly and start sharing it with everybody. Alternative, you can click the + symbol at the top of the sidebar to access your existing documents. You may need to authorise others in the hangout to view and edit, but that only takes a few clicks.
Like with Google Docs, you can now use SketchUp directly in a hangout. If you need to collaborate on a diagram or illustrate something, this is a great way to do it. Everyone can contribute and you just have to click the SketchUp link to get started.
Google+ Hangout APIs
As previously mentioned, developers have access to the Google+ Hangout APIs, allowing them to integrate the service into their web apps. This means the opportunity for plenty of neat collaborative opportunities down the road. Despite the proliferation of webcams, video chat isn't really something most people do with any regularity. Hopefully the integration of Hangouts will make the idea of video chat more compelling and more fun when interacting with others online.
How Do I Use Google+ Hangouts with Extras?
You may not have access just yet, as Google is in the process of rolling out these new features. To find out, click this link. If you see the picture to your left you don't have access. If you're able to create a hangout then you do. You'll also be able to create a hangout with extras the same way you'd normally create a hangout in Google+. When you're starting it up, just look for a link that asks you if you're interested in trying out the new extras and you should be good to go.
Google+: 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107... [Official Google Blog]