Hangouts, one of the unique perks of Google’s Plus social network, lets you talk face-to-face with up to nine other callers,. It’s dead simple to use, especially if you’re using a Chromebook. And if you know how, there’s a slew of cool tricks for interacting with other Google services from a Hangout, such group-editing Google Docs, watching a YouTube video together, and sharing your display with the group. Eager to start chatting (and editing, and watching, and sharing, and more)? Here’s how.
On the right side of the panel, a list of special features can be activated. Here’s a list of those options in the order that they appear.
Invite People. The first option, the red silhouette with a plus sign, lets you add video callers.
Chat. The second icon opens up a text-based chat window to the right of the video feeds.
Screen Share. The next button lets you share your screen with everyone in the video chat. (Our network’s bandwidth dropped here, but screen sharing does not always result in such blurry images.)
Photo Capture. The picture icon lets you snap a picture of the video feeds. When you view the snapchat, you’ll see one caller in the large video window and the other callers as thumbnails below.
YouTube. The fifth icon lets all the callers watch the same YouTube video on each of their systems. In this mode, the large video becomes a small version of YouTube where you can browse for clips, play and pause them. To your Hangout buddies, hit the Push to Talk button beneath the YouTube video.
Google Docs. You can also open, access and edit as a group any of the callers’ Google Docs.
Effects. The last button lets you add special visual and audio effects to your video; think floating cat masks, birthday hats, halos or devils ears. The audio tricks are a lot of fun too: you can add a drum-roll to your friends’ punchlines, chirping crickets for awkward silences or canned applause for buddies that like to ham it up.