Google+ has just celebrated its second birthday. Happy Birthday Google+. You know I love you, right?
As a Google anorak, even in these times when Google is slightly off the boil in the public mind when it comes to awesomeness, I am still a fan for a damn good reason.
I’m a fan because Google and I have an understanding. It’s a simple one. Google provides me free of charge with many different products ranging from Google Drive, through a couple of Google Apps for domains (Gmail), Blogger, Chrome, Google Now on my phone, and well, Google+ and all the other fiddly things to do with my photos, and of course, this big thing called ‘Search‘.
In return for all this, I am happy for Google to feed me context sensitive advertising, even after they’ve scoped my private emails, and I am happy for Google to look at me, examine me, and to turn me into a spot of data within a constantly evolving algorithm. None of what they do pays back, in my mind, for the awesome stuff they do for me. The magic of my symbiotic relationship with Google is that I feel I get much more from them than they get from me.
This, being honest, is not the feeling I get from Microsoft or anybody else out there.
I look to Google for more awesomeness every day. And, I think I’ve just clicked as to what their main game changer is.
I’m talking about Google Hangouts, and especially Google Hangouts On Air.
So, Google Hangouts in three sentences is fun video conferencing with around 10 others at the same time, via a computer or mobile phone or tablet. It is private or public, and, should you so wish, can be watched by thousands more via Youtube, where a live and then archive recording of the ‘Hangout‘ can be found, should you wish. ‘Hangouts‘ are being used more and more by mainstream broadcasters and for very serious high-level conferences right through to fun, well, ‘hangouts‘ between friends and family around the world.
Hangouts have been around for a few years, but it’s only very recently that they’ve gotten more awesome and seriously started to catch on to become an essential part of communication. I’d say they are now probably a very essential part of life for forward thinking businesses, especially those spread over the world.
Indeed, they are also extremely ‘green’. Why jet around the place for meetings when you can ‘conference video’ or ‘hangout‘ with contacts and colleagues?
Some might counter my enthusiasm for ‘Hangouts‘ by muttering about Skype. Ok, I hear you. But, unlike Skype, ‘Google Hangouts‘ actually works and offers so much more during a ‘hangout‘.
I’ve started to incorporate ‘Hangouts‘ with work, and on a private basis, my other half and I do our checking in with each other via Hangouts rather than phone calls. Cute, eh? Seamlessly being able to use any device from phone, through laptop, to massive computer with big fat screen and computing power, there’s no issues. You just, well, hangout together.
I suspect the first place that Google Hangouts will seriously influence is in the dissemination of information and knowledge. On Google+ (which tends to be where Hangouts are launched from) there are hundreds, turning into thousands of seminar hangouts being promoted daily.
These are hangouts hosted by people ranging from Jessie J through to microbiologists and beyond (Sorry if Jessie J is actually a microbiologist or beyond). Rather than attend college, or even just watch a one-way Youtube video, one can actually learn stuff interactively. One can listen to an expert, see what he/she is doing and ask questions to get clarification. Or, of course, one can ask Jessie J gushy giggly fan type stuff and listen to her exclusive live acoustic version of her latest single.
Here’s a prediction for 12 months from now: Google Hangouts will be an essential part of real life, not necessarily competing with Facebook or BBM for sending messaging between da yoof, but as a method of exchanging real ideas and real knowledge.
You know, in two years from now we’ll wonder what life was like before the awesomeness of Google Hangouts.