Google Hangouts – chats, video meetings and event broadcasts across multiple devices

October 30th, 2013 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

Google+ Hangouts is an instant messaging and video chat platform developed by Google. It allows Google users to exchange messages and pictures, video conference, share screens, and even broadcast the meetings live via YouTube.

With all these features, Google Hangouts can be a great tool for literacy programs and for introducing the Use Digital Technology competency. It can be used for texting/messaging, photo and video sharing and group projects – even for live meetings and training sessions when face-to-face meetings are not possible.

When you set up your Google+ account, it will get integrated with your Gmail account and display as one of the tabs when you are logged in to your account on your desktop.

Gmail will also add extra features to your Gmail interface to allow you to quickly connect with and start meetings with your contacts directly within your email account (it might ask you to install a plug-in for it to work).

For example, it will allow you to see a list of your recent contacts and quickly start a Hangout with any of them by clicking on their name (please note that Hangouts can also be initiated directly within Google+ or within Apps on mobile devices). Here I chose to talk to Marcin:


The conversation box that opens up will allow you to type in the text and hit Enter on the keyboard to immediately send messages:

The same chat box will also allow you to:

start a video call

create a group Hangout with someone

choose to receive notifications, see chat history, archive chats, delete or block the user

insert special icons called emoji

insert a photo

Google+ Hangouts can be installed and used on mobile devices as well.

Here is a quick video about Hangout group conversations:

Video calls

By clicking on a video call icon, I could call Marcin as well (you will need to install a plug-in for it to work). Coincidentally, Marcin was on a walk when I video-called him and he answered on his Android phone. Here is what I saw on my screen:

With the video call launched, we were able to talk and he showed me the neighbourhood he was in.

While in video call, Google Hangouts provided me with additional options:

Invite people – to call and video chat with more people at the same time (up to 10 participants)

Chat – to send messages and links to participants

Screenshare – to share my screen (everything on the screen or specific applications)

Capture – to take a picture of the screen

Google Effects – to apply special effects

YouTube – to watch YouTube videos together

Imagine using video calls and some of these features for organizational meetings, project updates, event streaming or working with students at different locations.

Phone calls

From Hangouts on your computer, you can also type in a phone number or pick one of your contacts. Once you’re talking, it’s easy to add more people and start a conference call, turn your conversation into a video call or add fun sound effects.

Did you know that calls placed to the US and Canada are FREE, and calls to other countries have super low rates?

Live-stream with Hangouts on Air

Want to share your event online? You can stream a conference keynote, host a worldwide concert or moderate a panel discussion with international experts, using Hangouts on Air.

To start Hangouts on Air, you can go to

Please note that before you can start, you need to connect your account to YouTube (which is now owned by Google as well).

It’s also good to know that you can create a separate YouTube channel for broadcasting your public Google+ videos.

Once your Hangout on Air is over, the recording will be publicly available on Google+ and on your YouTube channel, ready to be shared.

Here is a quick video about Hangouts on Air:

Interested in seeing what others are broadcasting?

You can see a schedule and join specific events as well, such as book clubs, conferences or special presentations.

If you are using Google+ Hangouts, please share with us why and how?