Hangouts are Google+’s ten-person video chat. This feature is considered a game-changer for Google+ and is a fairly simple tool that has almost unlimited possibilities. A few additional features inside of Hangouts, called Hangout Apps, allow you to interactively and simultaneously use services like Google Docs, Google Effects, YouTube, Screenshare, SlideShare, and Hangout Lower Third within Hangouts.
Hangouts have the same security abilities via Circles as you have with Google+ posts. You can select the people or Circles who are initially invited to the Hangout, but be aware that once someone is in a Hangout, they have the ability to invite in people on their own. No matter how many people or circles as you invite, once the Hangout fills up, no other attendees will be able to join until someone drops out.
To start a Hangout, click on the Hangouts icon on the right menu bar, then the red Start a Hangout button that appears in the top right corner. As seen in Figure 1.10, you will have a pop-up window appear that lets you invite people, pages, or Circles to the Hangout as well as enter email addresses of people you would like to invite from outside Google+. You will be presented with a visual list of recommended people from your Circles to invite, or can enter a telephone number to have a person join “audio-only” in a Hangout much like a conference call.
Figure 1.10. +Tags in action.
Hangout options available include “Restrict minors from joining this hangout” and “Preferred hangout language for this session.” If you choose to make this a Hangout on Air (referenced below), you must select the checkbox at this point. Once a Hangout is in progress you can invite more guests if you want.
When you are finished making your Hangout selections, click the Hang out button to start the Hangout. Google+ will send invitation notifications with a clickable link to people you have invited, but members of any Circle you invite won’t receive a direct notification, only the ability to see the Hangout on their Google+ Hangout page.
If required, you can change your audio and video settings for Google+ by clicking on the gray gear icon in the top right corner of a Hangout window. You will be able to select or change your webcam, microphone, connection speed, and audio quality from here. (Note: Most Hangouts will not require you to change the audio quality setting from Voice. The Studio setting will broadcast in stereo and is mainly used for musicians to broadcast. It uses a considerable amount of bandwidth over the Voice option.)