Google has integrated its free video chat suite Hangouts with Gmail. This means users can now video chat with as many as up to nine people through their Gmail accounts. The Hangouts integration enhances Gmail users’ video chat experience with a host of fun effects and business-oriented features.

To start a Hangout, users simply need to click on the video camera icon appearing on the right side of their Gtalk pane. A new window pop-ups, showing a list of their Google+ friends. Users can also add people to the video chat by adding contacts via Gmail IDs, in case they are not in their Google+ circles.

Google also gives users the option of making their chat public with Hangout On Air feature. The feature, which requires a verified YouTube account, allows users to broadcast their chats to an infinite number of web surfers on YouTube.
Once a Hangout starts, users can see the other group members at the bottom of their screens, while the video appears on top. On the left side is the window pane with a host of features like Chat, Screenshare, Google Drive, Google Docs, Effects and Ping Pong Hangouts. With Chat, Hangout members can send instant messages to each other, while Screenshare is a collaborative tool that allows members to send a screenshot of an open window on their computers to all other chat members. The integration of Google Drive and Google Docs in Hangouts in Gmail further extends the collaborative nature of the video chat.

For those who want to have fun with their friends in a Hangout, Google has integrated a game of table tennis as well as various effects like sounds, pictures etc. Users can also add apps of their choice in Hangouts from a selection provided by Google. These features allow users to watch YouTube videos together, share pictures or send out their messages to the world. With integration of Google Calendar in Hangouts, users can mark important events and set reminders to schedule a Hangout for any given day.
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