Google took the beta wraps off Hangouts On Air, which gives users worldwide the ability to create instant Webcasts over Google+, the companys fledgling social networking site. Through the service, members who are looking to connect with the larger Web audience can do so through checking "Enable Hangouts On Air," where users can broadcast their live Hangout from the Google+ stream or the users YouTube channel or Website.
During the broadcast, users can look inside the Hangout to see how many people are watching live. Google will also upload a public recording to the YouTube channel and to the original Google+ post for discussion. The company said the rollout would take place gradually over a period of weeks, due to the immense process of launching millions of live stations simultaneously. News programs like "CBS This Morning," entertainers such as Conan OBrien, and the Global Poverty project are launching this week, according to a Google blog post.
The Hangouts features help facilitate group video chat, with a maximum of 10 people participating in a single Hangout at any time, though anyone on the Web can join in if they possess the URL leading to the page. The platform is one of many Google is employing to lure members of other social media sites like Facebook, which counts 900 million members worldwide, and the microblogging site Twitter.
Google has already given Google+ a Facebook-like refresh, in an effort to more directly compete with the social networking behemoth. That included a facelift to the Hangouts feature. The company added a dedicated Hangouts page that creates more opportunities to connect in person, including an updated list of invitations from the people in your circles, access to every public and On Air Hangout for times when people want to meet someone new, the ability to watch a live broadcast, and a rotating billboard of popular Hangouts, pro tips and other items.
In February, Googles YouTube team integrated a little more tightly with Google+, allowing users to display their Google+ profile or Page alongside social feeds from Facebook and Twitter on their YouTube channel. The new features were designed to boost users' personal and professional brands on the video-sharing site, which could also draw more people to watch users' videos.
It is an open question whether individuals will take to the feature, taking into account the rise in privacy concerns over posting personal information on the Web. Privacy infringements have become synonymous with the search engine giant. Using the online research tool HighBeam, 7.6 percent of Googles media attention in 2012 mentions the subject of privacy, the highest yet. In 2008, that figure stood at only 4.8 percent, according to HighBeam Research, part of research specialist Cengage Learning.