Google is bringing Google+ Hangouts to mobile phones

20 Sep 20113 Shares

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Google’s Hangouts video conferencing feature – which lets multiple friends video conference each other at once – is coming to mobile devices, the company said, along with APIs for developers, a public broadcast capability and the ability to collaborate via Google Docs.

Google engineering boss Vic Gundotra launched a slew of new features and capabilities to mark 90 days of its social networking site Google+ being in field trial via the official Google blog.

No doubt with rival Facebook’s F8 conference happening in two days’ time, Google is adding some fuel to the competitive fire. In recent weeks, Facebook responded to Google’s foray into social with its own slew of new features, including subscriptions and Skype video calling.

Among the first of the new features is a mobile version of Hangouts that users can activate by simply finding an active hangout in their friend Stream and tapping ‘join.’ This feature will be available on Android 2.3+ devices and will come soon to iOS devices.

A new Hangouts mobile app is also rolling out on Android today.

Google has also introduced a new Hangouts On Air feature that lets users instigate a public broadcast. The feature is activated by starting a Hangouts session and choosing the option to ‘broadcast’ your session. Friends can join in once you’re live.

“We’re starting with a limited number of broadcasters, but any member of the Google+ community can tune in. In fact: we’ll be hosting our very first On Air hangout with will.i.am on Wednesday night, September 21. For more information, visit will.i.am’s or my profile on Google+,” Gundotra said.

Extra features for Hangouts, including Google Docs

As well as the mobile and broadcasting capabilities, Google is also adding new capabilities to Hangouts, such as screensharing during a session, a sketchpad for doodling on screen and the ability to create Named Hangouts or public sessions around a certain topic.

The internet giant is also adding Google Docs to the range of extras, allowing participants to possibly collaborate on documents while conversing on a video call.

Gundotra said the extras are still under consideration but users are free to try them out.

In the wake of last week’s Google+ API launch, he said Google is also releasing a basic set of Hangout APIs, allowing developers to build new kinds of apps and games around the Hangouts platform.

Gundotra also said that Google search capability is going to feature on Google+, allowing users to search for people, posts, news and photography, for example.

In conclusion, he said that invitations are no longer required and that Google+ is now open to the masses.

“For the past 12 weeks we’ve been in field trial, and during that time we’ve listened and learned a great deal. We’re nowhere near done, but with the improvements we’ve made so far we’re ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce our 100th feature: open signups. This way anyone can visit google.com/+, join the project and connect with the people they care about.

“Over the next day we’ll be rolling out all of these features globally,” Gundotra said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com