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Google+ Hangouts: nicer to look at, easier to use

Today we're excited to launch some visual and functional updates to Google+ Hangouts on the desktop, including:

1. A sidebar you can show or hide. The most important part of a hangout is the people in the room, so we've consolidated important items (like invites, chat, and apps) into a sidebar that's there when you need it, and tucked away when you don't.

2. Clean, colorful notifications. Alerts now appear in red, actions in blue, and announcements in grey, making it easier to read and respond to notifications while you're inside the hangout.

3. Apps that are easier to find and manage. The sidebar contains your frequently-used apps, as well as other ones active in the hangout. And you can also remove apps from the sidebar at any time.

Enjoy hanging out with today's update, and let us know what you think in the comments! (And don’t worry if you don't see the changes yet -- we're rolling them out in the next day or so.)

#googleplusupdate
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TJ Kemp's profile photoLinda Renz's profile photoDaniel Junior's profile photoAndrew Henderson's profile photo
134 comments
 
not a fan of chat on the right.  Notifications are pretty. seems like there is less space for video now because of chat on the right and the amount of space now used by the side bar.  I's prettier for sure but I think I would prefer chat on the left and the side bar minimized by default on the left.  I am sure I will get used to the change and care a lot less in 24 hours.
 
+Aaron Kasten type ? .. to see the shortcut menu .. which has Ctrl b .. to open and close chat.. and top left will collapse  menu app buttons.. Chat on the right will be a grower.. after a few hours, you will not notice it :)
 
OK, but do I HAVE to wear a mask and snorkel?
 
+Mike Downes oh yeah I'm not complaining just sharing my initial 5 minutes into a hangout.  I have been trained to expect chat on the left from Gmail and previous hangouts.  Chat is on the right in + but I have it disabled :\

I agree it will be a non issue once I get used to it on the right.
 
Hey is that google glass?
 
Wow.. Great week for Google..! Amazing..! 
 
hey what happened to public hang out???????????????????? 
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please reactivate it... 
 
Another cool feature is that the settings you use frequently will carry with you from hangout to hangout, so for those of you that like chat open or closed, sidebar expanded or collapsed, etc - your hangout will remember!
 
Got it - works great! Thank you :-)!
 
Please put the chat back on the left. That's where people are used to it being. I've been using this new interface for awhile now, and I didn't see anything wrong with the old one.
 
Looks quite handy. Thanks. Is it just rolling out ?
 
Looks great, can't wait to test it :)
 
Looks clean and usable. And best of all, more space for our app :)
 
Great changes! I like it but it would be great having all these Hangouts apps (chat, YouTube, effects, etc) in Google+ app for Android and iOS
 
Wonderful idea! Hope its secure .
 
These are excellent updates. Much more intuitive and functional
 
Great task. I think it will nice experience using this application. Though i've not downloaded but i shall do soonest.
 
I just to be able to go to the hangouts and pick a random one and join, now I only see live hang outs and I can't join. How do I go back to the old view? 
 
How does one find other people's hangouts in Google+?
 
would really like to see these updates for tablets. 
 
Can we hide the people in the Hangout now too??

This would be very helpful... especially when Screen-Sharing.
 
How can I test this.  I don't see this new UI when I do hangouts.
TJ Kemp
 
I always do this
 
This looks great for making it even smoother to have new people participating in our HOAs. But what we really are waiting for is the possibilities to could use all the apps from within a PAGE starting a Hangout on Air.  
ayyu bi
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it's very funny
 
Don't worry so am I when it comes to all this...
 
No..we need a good diet.
 
Thankyou,I'm a bit of a doughnut when it comes to this stuff,can just about
turn my phone on lol..
 
I don't care for chat on the right and would much rather have it on the left or floating. Floating would allow dragging it right below the camera for a much more professional look to viewers of Hangouts On Air. Likewise, floating would allow putting the video up on dual-monitor systems for presentations, while keeping the chat on the local/producer's machine so the whole audience didn't see it. 

Finally, it's a contradiction to the rest of Google+ with the stream that updates and scrolls on the left while more static content is on the right. This is the norm for virtually every UI in existence including GMail and Google search results. We've trained our brains to tune-out the right side where the ads and less relevant content are. 
 
For what it is worth, I agree with +Tom Rolfson .. floating chat would be great for us more experienced HO'ers... maybe giving us a click to float window would be cool... starts out as it is now, with a 'click to open a new window' function... cool idea or too hard?... Google can do it!
 
+Amit Fulay - Please give us the option to move the ribbon of videos to the top of the screen above the main video. The reason for this, is that most webcams are on top of the monitors and it makes more sense to have the people you look at be closer to the webcam. This would make it appear more natural, as if you're looking at them.
 
+Jonathan Black GREAT request... there is a Chrome extension that used to do that with the 'old layout' called Poonvis... let's hope that they update it so it works for the New Layout! Puts the filmstrip up top, near the camera.
 
So let's lift the cap now. Ten can be constraining.
 
It s more than i thought am waiting
 
+Bridgit Mendler If it doesn't work right away when you load a Hangout, remove the Google Talk Plug-in from your computer's config/installed software then try joining a Hangout again. Sometimes this only works after rebooting before re-trying a Hangout.
 
I wish you added a way to archive the chat log of an Hangout.
Thanks.
 
As someone who uses Hangouts daily, I am always excited to see the platform grow ever more robust, while staying simple to use. Well done!
 
do you really like googe
 hangouts?
 
Yep.  I use them daily for work and fun.  The tech is really solid and will only get better.  Aside from a a couple of clients who refuse to change, I never use Skype anymore.
 
Will this allow us to record a hangout and not broadcast it? or broadcast it only as private or to select circles?
 
Looking forward to checking out these updates!
FEATURE REQUEST: Would love to see a "Skype-like" Hangout notification when calling friends or family.  Currently, if I call my parents on Skype, they hear the computer ringing (thanks to Skype running in the system tray), but to do a Hangout, they have to open their browser to initiate.  Love that capability on mobile - look forward to similar functionality on the desktop!
 
I will be much more prone to use the hangout when there's no arbitrary limit on camera streams. Camfrog gives me more than what my screen can physically handle at any of their chosen stream sizes.
 
+Matt Coddington - you should check out Chat for Google Talk - it has a system tray icon.  I don't know if it's there when the browser (Chrome) is not running.  I can't check that while I'm posting this response.  But it does pop up a window and make a similar sort of ringing noise.  I have some slight reliability issues with the ringing occuring every single time.  in that way, Skype is still better.  And audio quality is not quite as good as Skype.   but still quite good.   I"m also hoping to eliminate skype.  
 
+Amit Fulay  Still no HD recording? Skype has that. If you want more sites to use Hangouts for podcasting, Hangouts desperately needs a 720p mode with crisper images. And also do whatever is necessary on the back-end to make it easy for people to hold podcasts over it, and then you'll see a lot of sites use it, which will increase the popularity of Hangouts.
 
I wish I could make all the chat stuff on the right less cumbersome by dragging the border or even just minimizing it completely. Better than that, I wish I could move things around like I can in gmail.
 
+Joshua Altman looks like no record w/o broadcast feature yet but I +1 your suggestion.  :) 
 
I'm new to this but like what i see. Thanks
 
I would like to see the person I hangout with in full screen. Especially when I hangout on my 13 inch laptop, the hangout window is too small.  Possible? +Amit Fulay 
 
+Donny Lau +Amit Fulay I agree it would be nice to see some sort of option to make everything full screen and cut out everything else. But I also think it would be good if there was a button to collapse the App Bar and another one to completely hide it! Keep up the great work looks amazing!
 
That's really innovative and fun! There should be more ways to tweak stuff in video chats in the near future.
 
This looks nice, but there is a lot of unused vertical space. That makes it difficult to use apps in hangouts. Here are some ideas.

* The bar at the top could be collapsible, or perhaps the icons could be moved to the left pane. 

* The white space below the thumb nail images could be removed

* Google+ could allow me to drag to adjust the height of the thumb nail images showing participants in the chat.

* If I only speak with a single person then I would like the white space to the left and right of his picture to be transparent.

* Alternatively the video thumb nails could be moved to the right pane.
 
Thanks Google! We still need a full screen option as has been mentioned, recording without broadcasting, HD capability, chat on Android and iOS, and for crying out loud why does my hangout title get cut off when there's tons of blank space along the top for it?
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Used this fun feature for the first time, thanks for adding it. We enjoyed it!
 
Does anyone know about using better quality, more capable cameras with Hangout rather than a dedicated webcam? Research leads me to believe this is a challenge, but it would be nice to take Hangout to the next level.
 
Just use ManyCam, that lets you broadcast just about any resolution your camera can handle
 
Thanks Matthew. My concern is mostly about fitting more people in frame, zooming, etc. that a webcam can't handle. Will check out ManyCam.
 
How do I get the video of the person I'm in hangout with to fill the screen? It is kind of irritating that I cannot figure out how to do this. 
 
I wish they had a full-screen feature, every other video chat software has that. We need it on both web and Android/iOS! The best way I know how to do it on computer is to zoom OUT with your browser. (It's counter-intuitive but try it.)
 
Since we are composing a wish list here.. I also agree that having a full screen is a must for video chat.  Second, for long sessions I wish it would not log us out, allow users to set the time out.  Thank you!
 
Yeah, what happened to the Full-Screen feature that people have been asking for for months?
 
It would be nice to move images of participants to the left column, and perhaps place them on top of the video. That would leave room for apps.
 
Unbelievable that we're STILL WAITING ON A FULL-SCREEN OPTION
 
+Mathew Call we have a full screen option if there is only one 'camera' visible, it goes full screen.
 
Well what I mean is nothing else on the monitor except the person's video. No sidebars, no chatbox, no participants down below, no title; a true full-screen toggle.
 
+Mathew Call when you are on the 'inside' you see those other things, but if you are viewing on the outside it is fullscreen - nothing else in the player shows, no filmstrip, just one full screen video.
 
Ah yes, for Hangouts On Air. I am referring to a full-screen option while on the 'inside'.
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