Google+ Hangouts: 'Start Hangout from any Post, Google+ Messenger App, Hangouts On Air, Free Telephony, Antlers' and More!

Google+ Hangouts, today goes beyond "status updates," and connect with the people you care about using multi-person video with following new features released today:You can now start a hangout from any post on Google+. "Just click "Hangout" underneath a post that you're passionate about, and we'll add your invitation to the comments. If others are […]

Google+ hangoutsGoogle+ Hangouts, today goes beyond "status updates," and connect with the people you care about using multi-person video with following new features released today:

You can now start a hangout from any post on Google+. "Just click "Hangout" underneath a post that you're passionate about, and we'll add your invitation to the comments. If others are hanging out already, you'll see their invitation in the comments as well," informed Vic Gundotra.

Starting a hangout on a post (left); Joining a hangout already in progress (right)
Start a hangout from any Google+ post

Also, Hangouts is now availabe on Google+ Messenger on mobile devices. "Simply tap the new hangout icon when the time is right, and you'll flip from text and photos to smiles and laughter."

The new Google+ app will be available in Android Market within a few days, and it's coming soon to the App Store, notes Gundotra.

Google+ Messenger: tap once to start a hangout (left); tap again to continue typing (right)
Google+ Messenger App for Android and iOS

'Hangouts On Air,' currently under active development, is now closer to general availability with the following under mentioned features:

  • On Air is now turned-on for hundreds more public figures, celebrities and other Google+ users with large followings
  • Hangouts On Air is now a completely 'self-service,' so you can broadcast whenever you're in the mood
  • On Air is integrated with YouTube, "so once you're off the air, we'll upload a full-length (and private) recording to your account," said Gundotra.

To get started, just look for the new "broadcast and record" option after starting a hangout. In order to watch or join On Air broadcasts directly from the stream -- just look for the red banner while reading your posts or checking your hair, and you'll know you're in the right place.

Google+ Hangouts On Air

Now anyone with a telephone can dial-in friends and family, from all over the world, directly into your hangout. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, and international calling rates are super, super low.

Free Dial-in Google+ Hangouts

Google also making 'active hangouts' more accessible in two important ways:

  • On the right-hand side of the stream, you'll see up to three live hangouts that you can join
  • Whether you're at your desk or on the go, we'll ring your device and notify you when you're invited to a hangout

From left to right: live hangouts you can join; desktop notification in chat; mobile notification
Google+: live hangouts you can join; desktop notification in chat; mobile notification

Back in Movember, Google+ added 'mousaches' in hangouts to help Google+ community add virtual moustaches to their faces. Now, they've introduced 'antlers.' To help you add your own special effects to Hangouts apps, Google+ is adding a media effects like these to the Google+ Hangouts API developer preview.

Moustaches in Movember (left); Antlers in December (right)
Google+ Hangouts Moustaches in Movember; Antlers in December

"This new API will let you detect the participant's face and overlay your own image on it. Images can be attached to different parts of the face (nose, eyes, upper lip, etc.) and will track that point as the face moves. The image will rotate as the face rotates, and scale to the size of the face," explained Google.

The following code snippet will give you a sense of how simple it is to detect the nose tip of a participant and overlay a custom image. See the API documentation for more details.

// Load the image file
var imageResource = gapi.hangout.av.effects.createImageResource(
   'http://your image file');

// Create the overlay
var overlay = imageResource.createFaceTrackingOverlay({
 trackingFeature: gapi.hangout.av.effects.FaceTrackingFeature.NOSE_TIP,
 scaleWithFace: true,
 rotateWithFace: true
});
overlay.setVisible(true);

Finally, also added an API that lets developers add their own sound to the hangouts. Here is a snippet.

// Load an audio file
var audioResource = gapi.hangout.av.effects.createAudioResource(
   'http://your audio file');
// Play the sound
var sound = audioResource.play();