10 things I intensely dislike about Google Hangouts

OK, so I don’t hate Google Hangouts. It’s an incredibly useful tool, and it’s free. We use it a lot at Open Knowledge for ad hoc meetings, catch up calls, scheduled webinars and sessions, even for parties.

Open Knowledge Foundation online Christmas party: We were treated to carols, christmas outfits, tales of cheese eating and show & tell of Christmas presents - this is shabby man in the picture!

Open Knowledge online Christmas party

However I find it a confusing tool to use and I’m always getting caught out by it in some way. I think I get it…and then I discover I’ve messed up. So here are 10 things that annoy me and the lessons I’ve learnt.

1. Screen sharing – Screen sharing on Google Hangouts is confusing. If you are trying to present slides the best way seems to be to share your desktop and present your slides using presentation mode. You’ll need to get someone else to monitor the chat but at least people can see your slides properly – and not some sad, half-version of them with notes. And you know exactly what people can see – no confusion there. Sharing a window (or part of your desk top) just doesn’t seem to work that well ☹

screen sharing

2. Broadcasting a Google Hangout – Set up your Google Hangout on Air page and then go directly from that page to the hangout using the start button. Only go by this route, do not pass go and do not collect £200. Do not use the url for the hangout that you’ve got along the way. Doing that means you will end you up in a hangout with no broadcast button, which means no streaming and no YouTube video! I’ve made this mistake a few times. Also the “Start broadcasting” button is often grayed out for ages before you can start, or maybe that’s just my broadband!

3. Muting when typing – I get the point but arrrrgggggh!!

4. Number of participants – Google Hangouts has a limit of 10 active participants, 15 if you have Google+ premium or create the hangout from a Google Calendar event. Sometimes 15 is not enough!

5. People popping up – If you run a Google Hangout on Air and share the Hangout link openly be prepared to have people (normally teenagers) popping up in the middle of the session. Normally they just should something silly then leave. Oh joy!

6. Too much going on – Facilitating a Google Hangout on Air by yourself if tricky. There is just too much to keep an eye on. There’s the chat in the Hangout, the chat in the Hangout on Air and also the Q&A thing too. I just don’t have that many hands or enough space in my head.

7. Crash – When a Google Hangout on Air crashes for the person who set it up a new Hangout on Air needs to be started. Grrr! This caused problems at the Making it Matter workshop I ran.

8. Google monopoly – If you don’t do Google then you could be shut out of the fun. For example if you want to participate in a Hangout on Air by asking questions or commenting in the accompanying chat you need a Google+ account. Not very inclusive.

9. Loosing your chat – Once it’s gone it’s gone! Or at least it seems like that. If you accidentally drop out and come back in the chat has gone – it’s like people talking behind your back! It would be good if there was a way to hang on to your chat in a Hangout. I keep loosing important links.

10. Google effects – Fun for 5 minutes then annoying and confusing – mainly because you are distracted by searching for an effect you’ve used once before but can no longer seem to find!

effects

I actually didn’t think I’d be able to come up with 10 things but it wasn’t tricky…

3 thoughts on “10 things I intensely dislike about Google Hangouts

  1. Great post, Marieke🙂

    The thing I found most frustrating when we used Google Hangouts on Air for your Making It Matter workshop was the fact that the place where you set up and start a Hangout on Air seems to vary by account. It was not consistent between my own Google+ account and your Google+ account. I guess this wouldn’t be a problem for many people, but was still decidedly confusing! Nothing was in the same place and it is not obvious how to find and start a scheduled Hangout.

    That said, it appears to be the only neat, cheap/free way to bring together remote and local participants in a live stream that gives a consistent experience for everyone involved. The screen sharing function is really the bit that lets it down – if you don’t have enough bandwidth it crashes the Hangout on Air, which is really not helpful!

  2. Yes I am just starting to look at it and we cant screen share – but there is no explanation – it just says it isnt working ! I tried reducing the bandwidth but now its pretty much not working at all. We did get the effects working so at least I have a pig nose while trying the rest – but your list is putting me off using it. As you say that link is quite unwieldy to send to people. Can they just find us by ID as in with Skype ?

  3. As someone who loved Google, why, oh why did you ruin something so simple and intuitive as Google Talk?

Comments are closed.