One of the Google features I absolutely love is Google Hangouts. They have incredible potential for the teacher in the classroom, for professional development purposes and for older students to use for collaboration. Google, of course, is always improving its projects and you never know when something is about to improve before your eyes, and this has proved true of Hangouts! Here are three new features that I have noticed.
1. 'Hangouts chat' now get an extension on the Chrome toolbar
Chrome is such a versatile browser to use. My browser bar is populated with extensions which enable a quick and seamless browser experience which puts everything at your fingertips. You just click on the required extension on your browser bar and “it happens”.
Google has recently created an extension for Hangouts called ‘Hangout chats’ and I have just added it to my toolbar. With this app, you just click on it and it opens a screen in the bottom right hand corner of your browser page for chatting to whoever is a member of your Google+ community. This reminds me of the Skype chat feature which I often felt was sadly missing with hangouts.
2. A new video launcher app for Hangouts
Another new feature is a video launcher app for hangouts. This can be added to the Chrome
apps section of your browser on any device and it enables you to launch a hangout from there. What could be simpler! You can see mine on the second row from the bottom in the screenshot below.
3. Take snapshots while you are talkingOne can have a lot of fun while participating in a Hangout, and the newest addition for this is the addition of the camera icon with the word ‘Capture’ on the left side. I experienced a reunion hangout with buddies from the New York Google Teacher Academy 2012 on Sunday evening and this was a good opportunity to try this out. (This regular reunion is a fun time of catching up with news and views, and various teachers slip in and out of the Hangout as their time permits.) On the side bar below you can see the word ‘Capture’. Whenever anyone clicks on it it takes a photo of whoever is in focus but the awesome is that it lets everyone know so that there is no secrecy about it.
Below you can see JR Ginex-Orinion, a Science High School teacher from New York, with his cute little daughter, Katie. He was preparing for her birthday party so we were singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her; and you can see that some of us captured snapshots. The camera icon at the side tells how many snapshots have been snapped and the little camera then settles on the thumbnail photo below the main picture showing who took the photo.
All the photos taken by anyone on the Hangout appear on one’s Google+ events stream afterwards and I particularly liked this one captured by Linda Yollis from Los Angeles.
If you haven’t tried Google Hangouts before you really are missing out! They are free with your Google account. Try them!