Google+ now lets video-chatting groups of up to ten people watch live streaming videos together on YouTube.
YouTube Live product manager Brandon Badger said that "YouTube is closely integrating Google's Hangouts group video chat platform with its live streaming in an effort to make video watching more social. The site has already quietly begun to make live video feeds available to Hangouts users, and will eventually add tools to improve discovery of live streams both within Hangouts and on YouTube.com," reports GigaOM.
Here's a step-by-step guide if you want to try this yourself:
- Start a Hangouts session in Google+ and invite your contacts to join you.
- In a separate browser tab, head over to YouTube.com/Live and select a live stream of your choice
- Copy the YouTube video I.D. of the selected live stream. Not sure how to find it? Just click on the share link below the video. You'll get to see a link like http://youtu.be/XXXXXXXX - the cryptic code after the slash is the video I.D.
- Switch back to hangouts, open the video tab and search for the I.D.
- Click play, and you're all set.
It doesn't stop there. As you can see above, the current method of manually searching for live video feeds is somewhat cumbersome, but YouTube is actively working on a much closer integration. Soon, it will feature ongoing live streams within the YouTube tab of Hangouts. The next step after that will be to directly integrate Hangouts into YouTube pages for live streams. "We would show you some of the available public Hangouts," Badger said, adding that these Hangouts would be featured right next to a live stream. In short, YouTube plans to create tools that will tightly integrate the feature into its Google+ interface, as well as integrate Hangouts into YouTube Live.
For example, Google+ users will be able to watch a live stream on YouTube and see which of their friends are watching that stream in a Hangout. Then, they'll be able to join their pals to watch that live video, letting them, say, virtually gather together to watch a live football game, with the ability to interact with each other face-to-face at the same time. Badger couldn't give any time line for the integration of these features, but he assured: "It's something we've been working on."
The face-to-face interaction of Hangouts takes this type of interaction one step further. Users are able to talk to each other in real time while watching a sports game, a concert or a newscast, much as if they were sitting on the couch together. The limited nature of Hangouts -- only ten users can chat with each other at a given time -- also adds a sense of intimacy that's lacking from a Twitter or Facebook feed.