Part of Google’s big social initiative, Google+, was Hangouts. This was not just a messaging system but also a video chat platform that allows up to ten people to chat at the same time. It’s a really good way to have chats with your friends when you’re in different parts of the country. It also allows you to make free phone calls (voice-only) to your family.
One really cool part of this was Hangouts on Air. Not only can you have this video chat, but you can record the whole thing live as a way to broadcast it with an even larger audience. This has made it easy to organize these sort of public talks that don’t require everyone to be in the same room. For example, NASA has done many of these Hangouts.
These videos have been streamed and published on YouTube, so the Hangouts moniker hasn’t really made a lot of sense. Now that YouTube Live is coming to mobile, there appears to be some consolidation. In a new YouTube help page, there is a notice that Hangouts on Air will be moving into YouTube Live on September 12.
What does this mean? Well, right now there doesn’t seem to be a ton of impact functionally. Users will be able to start a Hangouts on Air from YouTube. In the live video section you can start a live stream or schedule one for later. The videos and chat system don’t appear to be affected.
On September 12, the events created in Google+ for these Hangouts will no longer work. Previous events will be displayed in read-only, and new events will not be created.
The apps that are built on-top of Hangouts on Live for Q&A and similar social features will not work with YouTube Live. The help page says they’re “currently not available”, hinting that these may return, although still being ambiguous. This seems to be part of a larger effort to decouple technology and features from Google+.
Do you watch a lot of Hangouts on Air? What kind of changes do you want to see to the platform? Let us know in the comments below.