Google+ Hangouts to go HD on the desktop

Don’t be surprised if you switch on Google+ Hangouts sometime next week and see that the video quality is suddenly much better. Google is working on bringing...


Don’t be surprised if you switch on Google+ Hangouts sometime next week and see that the video quality is suddenly much better. Google is working on bringing an update to its video calling platform that will let you see videos in 720p.  

 

GigaOM had originally  reported about Google+ Hangouts going HD, and the news has now been confirmed by Vic Gundotra, Senior VP of Engineering at Google. According to the report, the company began rolling out the update to a handful of users last week.

Gundotra said the update will be rolled out over the next few weeks and will reach the desktop version of the service. Initially, the upgrade will affect Hangouts On Air, which are public sessions, and there's a broader roll out for private chat coming up.

 Google+ Hangouts to go HD on the desktop

HD Hangouts coming up

 

This is probably a step towards making Hangouts a plugin-free experience. Currently, Google uses the H.264 video codec for Hangouts, and is now moving to VP8, an open and royalty-free video codec it released three years ago. VP8 will allow Hangouts to add participants to the chat without requiring to hit the pedal on processor power. Essentially, more people and better videos are coming to Hangouts.

That’s not all: turns out, the shift to VP8 is only a step towards WebRTC. This shift will eventually remove the need for plugins used on browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. Google as well as Mozilla have been vouching for this set of audio and video standards, but this changeover is still months away.

Google’s Vice President of Engineering Chee Chew believes that the transition to WebRTC will reduce the need for downloading any additional software to be able to video chat right from the browser. “The role of the plugin will diminish,” he says.

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