The smartest, most compelling feature on Google+ might be the video chat “Hangouts.” I popped in my first one yesterday and Google co-founder Sergey Brin was one of the other 9 folks in the room. He was asking about what folks thought of the service so far and wanted to try it out for himself. Good for him.
For anyone who has used corporate video conferencing, the Hangouts will have a familiar feel, where the camera shifts from person to person based on who is talking (the loudest!). Neither Twitter nor Facebook have anything like this. Google+ could differentiate itself easily and quickly by making itself the destination for social video experiences. Group video chat is a fantastic feature and could easily evolve in many ways.
So far the Google+ implementation seems to work very smoothly. Once nice feature is you can play YouTube videos in the video chat. I’d love to see a recording feature built-in and a few other things, but most importantly, it seems to work seamlessly.
So far Google+ is off to a good start, far better than Google’s previous efforts, Google Wave and Google Buzz.
The interest has been so tremendous that Vic Gundotra, Google’s social media boss, said late last night, ”We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!”
(Once they open up invites again, I’m happy to invite you if you are interested — please leave your email in the comments below and I will do my best!)
In the meantime, for a more detailed look at some of the other features, I’d recommend these reviews from Search Engine Land and ReadWriteWeb (which, by the way, deserves huge kudos for breaking the news of Circles three months ago).