One of the niftiest features of Google+ is its group videoconferencing app called Hangouts. Not only is the service free, with support for ten simultaneous users — it also attempts to negate the awkwardness that’s often associated with coordinating video calls by making the experience more casual and free-flowing (any of your friends can hop into and out of a Hangout at any point, provided you’ve shared it with them).
One of the app’s other neat features is its ability to play a YouTube video for all of your friends at the same time (and, of course, you can immediately talk about the video). This evening, YouTube’s rolled out a new option that makes it easier to jump into one of these video-sharing sessions: you can now initiate a Hangout directly from a YouTube video’s ‘Watch’ page (you’ll find the option under the ‘Share’ menu).
The feature works as you’d expect: click it, and a browser window will pop up, prompting you to choose which Google+ Circles you’d like to share the Hangout (and video) with. Comb your hair, click share, and your Hangout will start.
This is just the first of what will likely be many more integrations to come for Hangouts — Google has repeatedly said that the app is built as a platform for enjoying shared experiences with friends. In other words, in a while you’ll probably be able to Hangout while playing games, showing off photo galleries, or perhaps even enjoying a live-streamed sporting event with friends.
Of course, this assumes that your friends are all on Google+ and are still logging in on a regular basis. Alas, aside from my ‘tech friends’, most of mine aren’t.