Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Google+ Hangout: free videoconferencing

Skype is the more popular way to talk with your loved ones. However, unless you have Skype Premium which charges, last time I checked, $4.49/month, you cannot do group video calling.

Last New Year's Eve, I was Skype-ing with my brother in-law in Sydney, Australia when I saw another cousin-in-law from Negros Oriental go online. However, I could not ring her up unless I ended the call with my brother in-law. That's when we decided to try Google Hangout.

I had one experience already previously with Google Hangout. But that hangout was initiated by Aileen (who works with Google) and it was done when we were videoconferencing with other tech people. I was not sure if I could successfully initiate one on my own.

Well, it was time to crack some knuckles.

I logged on to Google+ and there, on the righthand sidebar was a button "Start a hangout". I just clicked that, then invited my Sydney brother-in-law and cousin-in-law. Soon after, my other brother-in-law, my eldest girl and my parents-in-law joined in the conversation. We had 5 windows open in hangout.

Hangout also had a new button called "Reindeer" at the bottom of the screen. Curious what it was all about, my girl and I clicked it and guess what happened next! It was a fun app that added a red nose and antlers to your face via face recognition software!

Meet the 2 Rudolphs!!! And that's my family on Hangout!

What was great was that the audio and video were clear and not choppy at all. Even my Sydney-based brother-in-law said it was clearer than Skype on his end. If Hangout continues to be this clear, even with a maximum of 10 people online at the same time, I see no reason to pay through the nose for Skype Premium at all.

With Voice/Video Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) tools like Hangout and Skype available for free or at very low rates, I am beginning to wonder about the future of International Direct Dialing (IDD). Clearly, no matter how it goes, users like myself are sure to be the winners.

Have you used Hangout? What's your experience?


  1. Wow, I should have done this, too! :) Next time!

  2. Try it next time, Meikah! Happy new year!