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November 01, 2012

Google+ Hangouts Rolls Out New Features

By Brittany Walters-Bearden, TMCnet Contributor

Although Google (News - Alert)+ has been slow to gain a foothold among social media users, it has slowly been adopted by more and more people, largely as a result of the popularity of Google+ Hangouts, the conferencing platform. Google+ announced Thursday that they will rolling out some new features for Google+ Hangouts, making it “nicer to look at” and “easier to use”.

Amit Fulay, a developer for Google, posted the announcement on his Google+ page. The updates include:

  • A sidebar that users can choose to show or hide, where the “important” items like invites, chat, and apps are located.
  • A new look for notifications. Google+ has made it easier to read and respond to notifications with announcements in grey, alerts in red, and actions in blue.
  • Simpler, more accessible management of apps. Users’ most frequently used apps now appear in the sidebar, but they can be removed at any time.

The feedback on Fulay’s update has been largely positive; however, many users commented that they would prefer to have chat on the left, instead of on the right. Other users have made requests for other new features that they feel would benefit the user experience in Hangouts.

Image via Shutterstock

In an interview with Drew Ol of Tech Crunch, Kate Cushing, a product manager for Google+ Hangouts, cited video chatting as the new frontier of communication and the potential that it has for both personal and business uses. Now, companies are adopting Google+ Hangouts, originally intended for friends, to video conference with team members around the world.

These new updates are unlikely to significantly change the user experience, but they should lend themselves to making the experience more streamlined and functional. The simple, straight-forward new look of Google+ Hangouts is one that will appeal to the majority of their users.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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