One of the requirements for Hangouts on Air that annoyed some users was that users who wanted to participate had to sign in with a Google+ account and made it hard for businesses to easily use it as a platform for online meetings. Google has dropped this requirement now and users will only need to sign in to their regular Google account in order to start a Hangout on Air or to join one. It is unclear if this change will extend to non-business users or if they will still be required to sign in with their Google+ account to use.
Hangouts is also going to be available through Google Apps for Businesses, where Hangouts can now host 15 people at once, a nice increase from the usual 10. It also includes Hangout support for Google Apps for Business users. Hangouts will also be accessible not just from computers but also from Chromebox.
And to make video meetings with Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings even more accessible, we’re partnering with new providers to let you meet with teams using other systems. Blue Jeans will allow people on traditional H.323 or SIP-based videoconferencing systems to join video meetings. InterCall will let people join video meetings on their phones through an InterCall audio-conference bridge. And with new phone dialing support, you’ll be able to dial out from your Chromebox for meetings device to telephones.
Google plans to add additional functionality with Chromebox for Hangouts. Chromebox can currently be purchased through Google. Additional support will be added for Blue Jeans Network and Vidyo for using Google Hangouts.
With the Google Apps for Businesses version of Hangouts, it will be interesting to see if those who frequently host hangouts decide to bump up to the Google Apps for Business version simply to get the additional 5 Hangout participant spots. This would be a great addition to the Webmaster Office Hours Hangouts, as there are frequently more than ten people interested in participating, as well as the many others that have space issues.
Google has also released a new video detailing some of the business related features for using Hangouts.
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