We’ve all seen the comparisons made between Google Plus and Facebook lately. But Facebook may not be the only one that fell into El Goog’s sites when they launched Plus this past week. For a long time now Skype has been most peoples go to tool for video chat and calling. Mainly because it works and it has a simple user interface. Well now so does Google’s new Hangout feature.
For those of you who aren’t part of the elite Plus user base a Hangout is Google’s version of video chat. It supports up to 10 users at any time, can be private or public, and allows you to watch Youtube videos as a group. Using the service is as easy as clicking the “Start a Hangout” button on the right of your stream. After being in a fair share of Hangouts I can’t say that it is without fault, sometimes audio/video gets scrambled people get kicked out of the chat, and sometimes the whole Hangout will fail altogether. But being as this is a Beta we can hope and expect to see most of these issues resolved by launch.
Skype shares many of the same features as Hangouts but has one major difference: It requires you to leave your browser. This could be seen as a positive or negative for some people. Many people enjoy the freedom of having a separate application for video chat, they don’t have to worry about leaving a webpage or crashing their browser. On the other hand some users don’t want to download and update new software all the time, and enjoy keeping everything contained to their browser. Both sides have their ups and downs and inevitably it boils down to user preference.
As both services grow the differences between them are slowly disappearing, Skype is beginning to work with Facebook to integrate itself into a browser based video chat. Google is constantly expanding integration between browser and desktop, which is obvious in the Chrome OS. One feature that Skype currently holds over Hangouts is the ability to make voice and video calls to people anywhere in the world, not even requiring them to be at a computer. I don’t believe Google will let this be the case for too much longer, as they grow the Plus social network and Hangouts with it, voice and video calls to phones and other computers seems inevitable. That would just be one more feature to complete the circle for socializing online. So what do you think? Can Google compete with Facebook along with Skype with it’s latest social networking venture? Give us your opinion in the comments!