The Secret Weapon of Google+ = Hangout (aka “The Skype Assassin”)

I’ve got to admit that I’ve been skeptical about Google+ from the beginning for several reasons:

a) I don’t have time for another social network!

b) I haven’t figured out if it’s personal, professional or some mix of both.

c) I’m not seeing others adopt as quickly, so why put energy into a place with unproven traffic and value?

BUT there is one feature that has me hooked: Hangout! For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, here’s a video:

In fact, I agree with the New York Times that Hangout is the killer app of Google+ and the Lifehacker assessment that Hangout is the best group video tool out there. And, yes, I’m with Techcrunch in believing it beats Facebook video chat by a mile, too.

At GovLoop, we use the full suite of Google tools to communicate and collaborate (Gmail, GDocs, etc.), including Gchat for quick communication. But Hangout has enabled our team, which has been disbursed in Boston, Durham, DC and Tampa, to connect with each other “face to face.” While there is never a perfect replacement for in-person interaction, Hangout approximates that kind of connection and has improve our team’s rapport immensely. We use it for both smaller meetings of 2-3 people as well as for our full team meeting every week. The screenshot to the right is one of our less mundane meeting moments 😉

3 Recommendations for Google

1) Make it easier for Gmail users to jump from Gchat to Google+ and Hangout, especially the multi-party video chat.

2) Integrate Google+ into the rest of the apps.

3) Allow non-Gmail users to participate.

3 Ideas for Government

1) Use Hangouts to conduct interview with job applicants.
2) Connect your geographically disbursed teams.
3) Record your meetings and share publicly, achieving greater transparency in the process.
Have you used Google+ Hangouts yet?
What recommendations do you have for Google?
Thoughts on applications for government?
Disclaimer: Although Google is one of GovLoop’s 2011 Partners, this post was not written as part of our relationship with them. It reflects my own use and opinion of these tools as a private consumer.

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Chris Poirier

Haven’t used hangouts yet, but have and do use Google+ for everything now. Using SGPlus Chrome Extension I can post to G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all at the same time AND turn on and off the feeds to each as I choose. ( I actually wrote about this a while back, awesome tool.)

That aside, completely agree with your thoughts on integration across the google suite. It would make the tool all that much more powerful to link it throughout a suite of tools many have adopted already.

Also, love and have actually interviewed via webcast. No matter the tool, though I’m sure some are better than others, it is an awesome experience. The city of Alexandria, VA uses Adobe Connect Pro for interviews so geographically displaced candidates can interview without having to travel. (Even local candidates interview this way so all interviews are the same format for continuity in experience.) This is a great idea for many reasons, but especially for the ability to save the discussion and revisit it during selection I see as very powerful.

Jeff Ribeira

Hangouts is basically the only part of G+ that has truly caught on for me. Although now that google has recently released the + api, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of stuff developers come up with. Maybe they’ll even come up with some apps to fix a few of these issues you’re talking about.

John Janek

Last I checked, G+ required an HTML5 browser. That’s going to be a bridge too far for a lot of agencies. Although, I do wonder – does it work with Chrome Frame? I’ve been surprised that more agencies haven’t jumped on Frame as a way to preserve their investment in the MS platform while provide better capabilities for websites that can take advantage of it.

Also curious about some of the backend looks like Google’s been pushing WebM hard. I’d be interested to see if that’s what they’re using here. Are they still using the gchat/XMPP for message passing? We’re finally (finally) starting to see more Adobe Connect where I’m at. Hoping tools like these continue to see more use in the day to day – they can make a huge impact in the quality of the information exchange.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Chris and @Gadi – Thanks for the shades shout-outs!

@John – Those are great questions…let me see if I can get a Google person to respond…

@Jeff – Let’s keep our eyes peeled!

Chris Poirier

@jeff : I was going to say, if they add screen sharing etc then its a total winner. As soon as I can do 90% of what I can on webex/gotopc/adobeconnect for free..all bets are off and the War is on!