Online Design & eLearning

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Google Hangouts: A Quickstart Guide

Posted on: July 11th, 2013 by Wan Latartara

Google Hangouts is a free video call service. Its basic video call capabilities are somewhat similar to Skype and Facetime, but Hangouts focuses more on users interaction and group experience.

With full integration with other Google apps like Google Drive, Hangouts makes it easy to meet face-to-face with people from anywhere in the world and have a collaboration or interaction online in real time. For example, you may edit the same document together with your peers just by typing on your screen, watch a YouTube video together with friends, or see what other people are doing on their computer when they decide to share their screen. There is one limitation—Hangouts can handle up to 10 participants in one session.

Hangouts can be accessed through Google+. To use Google Hangouts, you will need a computer, a high-speed Internet connection that is wired to your computer, a headset with microphone, and a Google account. You may use your personal Gmail account or sign up for a go.olemiss.edu account through myOleMiss. No matter which one you use, make sure to upgrade your account to Google+.

Set Up a Hangout Session on Demand

The fastest way to set up a hangout is by creating a hangout on demand. This method works best when you are already online and ready for a video call. There are a few ways to set this up—the good news is either one of them only takes a minute or so. If this is the first time you are using Hangouts, you will be asked to install the Google Hangouts plugin, which will only take a couple of minutes.

Method 1: + New Hangout

Click on the Hangouts logo on upper right of your Google+ homepage. Place the cursor in the + New Hangout box.

New Hangout

Enter names or emails, or select from your list of people, circles, or communities. Then, click on the video call icon. Google Hangouts will start calling the participants.

hangout video call

Method 2: Start a hangout party

Click on the Hangouts logo on your Google+ homepage. Then, click on Start a Party button on the bottom right of your screen.
Start a party button
Post a Hangout invitation. Provide a description of the hangout. Enter the emails of your students or participants, or select from your list of people, circles, or communities.
post hangout invitation
Click Share and a hangout window will open. Participants will get a post on their Google+ and an email with a link if they are not logged in at that time.

Schedule a Hangout Session

You may schedule a hangout session ahead of time for recurring office hours or any scheduled meetings. This can be done either in Google Calendar or Google+.

Method 1: Google Calendar

While creating a new event in Google Calendar, click on Add video call to schedule a hangout for your meeting. Gmail users will receive a link in their email invitation. You may copy & paste the hangout link in an email to non-Gmail users; however, they will need to use a Google account to join the hangout.

Add video call in Google Calendar

Method 2: Google+ Events

On your Google+ homepage, expand the left navigation menu and click on Events.

Gplus_menu_events

Click Plan a Hangout button. Then, enter the event title. Add names, emails, circles or communities of participants, and click Invite.

Schedule a hangout event

Join a Hangout Session

You will need a Google account to join a hangout session. To join, simply follow the link in the invitation email or click on the Join Hangout button on your Google+ homepage.

Join hangout

Hangouts on Mobile Devices

Google Hangouts app is available for iOS and Android devices on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store respectively. Before opening the app, make sure to connect to a wifi connection for better video and audio quality. Although it is okay to join a hangout session from a mobile device, it is not recommended to host a session on mobile as it is considered less stable than a computer with wired Internet connection.