Google has been testing its Hangouts on Air feature with select broadcasters since 2011, but now it is rolling out the live streaming service to all of its users. An extension of the Google+'s Hangouts video chat service, Hangouts on Air allows users to create live streams that appear on YouTube, Google+or any web site that embeds them.
Unlike standard Hangouts that limit the number of users to 10 and only allow users who are part of the Hangout to view it, Hangouts on Air streams allow an unlimited number of viewers who are not speakers on the call. Hangouts on Air broadcasters will be able to see the number of current users and leave permanent recordings of their broadcasts on YouTube. In implementing these features, Google is competing directly with other live streaming services like Ustream.tv and Justin.tv moreso than Facebook.
In a blog post on the company's official blog, Google Engineering Director Chee Chew said that the company plans to roll the feature out to users over the next few weeks so you may or may not have it on your Google+ account right now. In a quick survey of LAPTOP staff, only one member had Hangouts on Air available on his Google+ account.
To see if you have Hangouts on Air, Log into Google+ and click the Start a hangout button in the upper right corner of the screen. If you see the option to "Enable Hangouts on Air," you have this capability and will need to go through a short verification process the first time you use it. If you do not have Hangouts on Air yet, check back every few days to see if it has appeared.
Even if you can't start your own Hangouts on Air broadcast yet, you can attend a slew of other Hangouts, including ones from CBS This Morning, Conan O'Brien and Jamie Oliver. For a partial list of current Hangouts on Air you can visit, check out Google's Hangouts home page.