Are you a regular user of Google’s Hangouts? Have you noticed any changes in the quality of your hangout videos? If you have, then you have received the latest Google Hangouts update that brings, among other things, 720p HD video streaming with hangouts. Google is leaving behind the older H.264 video codec and going with the VP8. The switch is almost complete and not all users have received the update yet. If you haven’t don’t fret, you may be getting the update soon. this update comes just days after another update that makes the application faster and adds other improvements and barely two days after we learnt that finally, AT&T users can use Google hangouts to make video calls even when using cellular data.
The guys at GigaOM got an exclusive with someone important at Google and learnt that the company has huge plans for the Hangouts video chats besides just bringing a better High Definition 720p experience to its users. Google is switching to the newer VP8 coded that it launched a couple of years ago from the older H.264, a move that it promises will significantly improve Hangouts in general and help it grow. At the moment, the most popular video calls application is Skype, owned by Microsoft but Google has its eyes set on the top spot. Dethroning Skype will be no easy task though, but the HD video feature sure does help immensely.
The VP8 is an efficient and fast royalty-free video codec that does not require a third-party plugin installed to work. What this means is that users can now place video calls over the internet and enjoy smooth HD video streaming with clear audio right on the computer browser without having to install any browsers. The report also mentions that video conferencing with multiple users – up to 10 – will be easy and smooth despite the fact that it previously used a lot of computing power. With the new plugin that comes with the Hangouts update, browsers can now process video streams faster at lower bit rates.
Google’s Vice President of Engineering Chee Chew confirmed that the switchover will not be noticeable by ordinary users easily, but they will notice when they see the video quality they receive after the update. Chew promises that the Hangouts HD video support rollout will be completed soon – by the end of next week to be precise. He however did not mention whether the HD video support for Android operating systems is a task in its short-term plans of upgrading Hangouts, but it is very likely that we might be seeing better video on Android’s and Chrome’s Hangouts soon.