Google hosting a special Hangout on August 1st to discuss its new self-driving car

Self-Driving-Prototype-Google-Car

If you’d like to know what makes Google’s self-driving car tick, the company is hosting an interactive Hangout as part of its Maker Camp field trip program. The festivities start on Friday, August 1st at 11AM PT/2PM ET, but you can start asking your questions right now. In addition to a Q&A session with participants, Google will be discussing how its driverless car operates, as well as the project’s latest developments.

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Google Voice now features calling from Hangouts on the web

google voice hangouts

We reported earlier this year that Google has plans to eventually roll Google Voice’s features into its Hangouts service and retire the former product, and we’re slowly seeing that transition play out now. Google’s Alex Weisen, who works on Google Voice, shared last night in a Google+ post that they’re making calling via Hangouts an option from the Google Voice website. Furthermore, the functionality will not require a Google+ account to work either. The option appears to be live on the Google Voice web interface now. Read more

Google Hangouts for iOS updated with iOS 7 design, iPad optimization, more

After a wave of updates for its Android apps yesterday, Google has just announced an update to its Hangouts for iOS app. The update brings the app version number 2.0.0 and is the first update for the app since all the way back in November.

The update adds a plethora of features and design tweaks, most notably of which is an iOS 7 optimized interface. There are aren’t a ton of changes, but everything definitely has the iOS 7 look and feel to it.Menus and buttons are now totally “flat” and much cleaner overall. The iPad app has also gotten some major tweaks, including picture-in-picture video calling. The app also now supports the ability to send video messages up to 10 seconds long, ala Snapchat.

The full changelog is below:

  • Fully-optimized for the iPad, including picture-in-picture video calling
  • Animated stickers that help you share exactly how you’re feeling
  • Record and send video messages up to 10 seconds long
  • Send a map of your current location

The update is live on the App Store now.

Google’s new Connected Classrooms program takes students on virtual Google+ Hangout field trips

Google today announced that its launching a new education initiative that will see students taking “virtual field trips” using Google+ video chat Hangouts. Google explains that it’s now allowing teachers to sign up for the field trips through a program called Connected Classrooms.

Teachers are already using Google+ to make learning more relevant, collaborative and accessible—from exploring a world-class art museum to staging a play to venturing into space. Connected Classrooms aims to make it easier for teachers to access exciting educational content to share with their students. In addition to the virtual field trips, teachers who visit the Connected Classrooms site will have the opportunity to join a Google+ Community with other educators to collaborate on field trips and share best practices for using digital tools in the classroom.

The first locations featured as virtual field trips will include the Seattle Aquarium, the Minnesota Zoo and the Solar Impulse hangar. Google is also partnering with over 20 organizations to that will help organize the field trips, some of which include National Geographic, Matilda the Musical, the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Read more

KitKat to drop Messaging app, integrate SMS and MMS into Hangouts?

hangouts

Android Police has screenshots suggesting that both SMS and MMS messaging are being integrated into Google Hangouts, with the standalone Messaging app likely to be dropped from KitKat (Android 4.4) – first on Nexus devices and later on others.

The screenshots claim to be from Hangouts 1.3. It’s just speculation that this will ship with KitKat – it’s possible that it may be released before or after. We have recently seen claimed screenshots of KitKat that include the Messaging app, but that isn’t inconsistent with the idea that it would be dropped from the Nexus first …  Read more

Google ‘Helpouts’ are a Hangout-based tutoring and learning ecosystem

Google-helpouts-learning-tutoring

Google now has a landing page of a closed beta of a novel new system of monetizing tutoring over Google+’s Hangouts conveniently called Helpouts. The service was first reported a month ago.  The idea is pretty simple. If you have a skill area that you think other people can benefit from, you sign up as an expert. Then on the other end, people who need tutoring in that area find an expert in that area that is online for the right price. Google takes care of the transactions. IT will be

I know people who do their counseling and tutoring over Skype or iChat already, so there is certainly a need in this area.

But the devil will be in the details. Reputation building and scoring will be important as well as keeping it clean from porn (or segregated if that’s what Google wants). Right now Google is inviting people who might be interested. I’m keeping an eye on this one – I hope it makes it through Google Purgatory. Read more

Google pushes out 18 new Google+ treats: enhanced Android app, better Events management, low-bandwidth connection for Hangouts, and more

Google+ app

Everyone finds a holiday angle during this time of year, and after launching 18 new features, dubbed as “treats” wrapped together “in one holiday package,” Google+ is one of the many.

On the mobile side, according to the official Gplusproject blog, Google+ announced it added new Android features that include on-the-go profile editing
, streamlined ways to author content, a notice when there’s new content to read, and the ability to subscribe to mobile notifications from favorite circles and interact with Google+ Communities. Google+ also launched full-sized backups of photos, with up to 5GB free (turn on Instant Upload to start), and photospheres now appear in the mobile stream (Android 4.2 required to snap 360-degree panoramas, but Froyo or later users can enjoy them now).

As for connecting, Google+ pushed out extra features to make event planning easier that include the ability to message specific guests, view opened invitations, and invite people through Google+ by sending an event URL via email or IM. Guests can also now RSVP with the number of people they want to bring, and a new duplication feature allows event makers to copy their original event as Google+ pulls all the important details.

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Google+ for Android now lets teens join Hangouts, Hangouts on Air from mobile

Google updated its Google+ for Android app today, and the most notable tweak allows users to join Hangouts on Air from their mobile devices.

That is not all: Teens can now create and join Hangouts from their mobile devices too. Apparently, they could not before, but Google now lets them take advantage of the social network’s premier video-chat feature on an Android-based smartphone or tablet.

Additional updates include:

  • - Floating timestamp in photos view
  • - Shortcuts for post creation
  • - Ability to report abuse in Events

 Screenshots of the updated app are below. 

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NFL adds Google+ Hangouts to Fantasy Football

Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra just posted an exclusive link on his Google+ profile for users to Hangout with their fantasy league at NFL.com.

The league is integrating Google+’s popular Hangout video-chat feature on NFL.com to give users a chance to visually interact with other Fantasy Football players from anywhere at any time. This is a huge advancement for the imagination-based sport, which typically eyes participation growth without any changes to technology.

According to The Wall Street Journal, this is the first time Google has implemented Hangouts into a third-party service. The feature is free and available 24/7 by way of a button on fantasy team pages. Google also increased Hangout’s 10-person limit, because leagues usually have about 12 players.

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CamUp sues Google, says Google+ and YouTube stole Hangouts feature

CamUp filed a lawsuit late last week that claimed Google ripped its video-chat feature for Google+ and YouTube.

The lawsuit filing revealed Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president, along with a few Mountain View engineers, approached the New York-based startup at the South by Southwest Festival in March 2011. They later met in London to negotiate adding a Hangout-like button, called “Watch with your friends on CamUp,” to Google’s popular video-sharing platform, YouTube. Despite receiving accolades on its product, CamUp did not hear from the Googlers after the meeting.

By May 2011, CamUp detected an alarming amount of visits from Google’s headquarters in California. The startup suggested that the traffic is evidence of Google beginning to examine its product for copying purposes. Google launched Hangouts with a “Watch your friends” button just one month later, which were allegedly indistinguishable from CamUp’s offerings.

CamUp is seeking damages, an injunction to remove Hangouts on YouTube and Google+, and it is suing Google UK’s Director of Business and Markets Richard Robinson.

The filing (via GigaOM) is embedded below.

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Google shines the spotlight on Google+ star Daria Musk

Daria Musk is a singer-songwriter that joined Google+ last July and went from zero followers to over 1 million with the help of Hangouts in less than 8 months.

Check out the video above to hear this performer’s awe-inspiring story. It looks like YouTube isn’t the only Google service turning-out stars these days (ahem—Bieber). The official Google Ad Words blog also highlighted Musk in a post today about how to go global with Google+:

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