Google’s Vic Gundotra just announced on his Google+ page a host of new Hangouts features meant to “go beyond the status update”. In short, you can now hangout on any post (an invitation will be added to the comments), call any phone number in the world and conference in anyone (free outbound calls to US and Canada, international calling rates are “super, super low”) and initiate a hangout session from the official Google+ app for Android or iPhone by tapping the new hangout icon.

The executive also shared an interesting milestone for Hangouts on Air, saying “hundreds of people” whitelisted as part of their trial now have the ability to broadcast their hangouts to the world. “Our goal is to enable this for everyone on the planet”, Gundotra noted. Initiating a Hangout session from your phone requires a new Google+ app, which will be available in Android Market within a few days, Google said (“coming soon” to the App Store).

The official Google blog has more information.

Also important regarding the Hangouts feature, per Google’s blog post:

– we’re turning it on for hundreds more public figures, celebrities and other Google+ users with large followings

– we’re making Hangouts On Air completely self-service, so you can broadcast whenever you’re in the mood

– we’re integrating it with YouTube, so once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a full-length (and private) recording to your account

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com.

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