Branden Kowitz is the chief designer of Google Ventures, yet he doesn’t use Google+ Hangouts when needs to collaborate with his portfolio companies.* Why is that? While Google makes some of my favorite products for collaboration (ahem – Google docs), Google+ Hangouts isn’t one of them. Unlike VSee’s secure group video + screen share tool, it simply isn’t well designed for fast work collaboration. It’s a great way to hang out with friends or strangers and to stream events live to hundreds of thousands of people, but think of it this way: a hoe could work in a pinch, it isn’t the best alternative when you really need a shovel.
* stated during Branden’s April 2012 BayCHI talk at PARC
VSee Advantages Over Google+ Hangouts
- Designed for working together
- Awesome video performance (and echo-free audio)
- Military-grade security
VSee Is More Than A Hangout
VSee is designed to make getting work done easy. Google+ Hangouts, as its name suggests was designed for socializing and hanging out, not simple, fast work collaboration. While Google has been working hard to make it more business-y, simply adding the ability to bring up a Google Doc or being able to start a hangout from Gmail, doesn’t make it a great business tool. Indeed, compared with VSee, the whole Hangouts experience is still rather clunky. For example:
Furthermore, Google Hangouts has made several poor business design choices, including:
- placing group video at the bottom of the screen so people are always looking down rather than “making eye contact” with group members
- having a voice-activated main video window (This causes the video to constantly switch around during a group conversation. Moreover, when people are working, creating, and designing together, they are often more interested in seeing a decision-maker’s reactions as opposed to the speaker’s reactions. Google+ Hangouts shows you the wrong person in this case, thus eroding your ability to make good decisions.)
- having the shared screen take over a speaker’s video, so you can’t see the person while he or she is presenting
- inconsistency about whether a user needs to have a Google+ account in order to join a hangout
Working together from a distance is frustrating enough as it is. Don’t make it more complicated with Hangouts when VSee was designed to simplify the job!
Fabulous Video Performance
VSee video at default setting of 240p
Hangouts group video (actual size, not adjustable)
VSee has incredible video. It rarely drops callers from group meetings and is capable of HD group video even over 3G cellular networks. You’re also not bound to a hard limit of 10 people in a call. Hangouts, on the other hand, which started out using Vidyo, now utilizes WebRTC for video, which doesn’t give you the video quality VSee provides. (Email me if you want to know why Google dropped Vidyo. You may also be interested in how VSee compares to Vidyo.)
Furthermore, VSee allows you to have a headset-free experience with its echo-cancelled audio, while Google+ Hangouts recommends you use a headset for a good experience.
Google+ Hangouts main video window (audio-activated)
VSee HD video- 720p (bandwidth 147 kbps up / 206 kbps down)
Right from its conception, VSee was built to be secure. VSee calls are always secured with FIPS 140-2 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption. This means VSee does not store (even temporarily) or have access to any of your video call information. In fact, we service such organizations as the Navy SEALs, the US Congress, and NASA Space Station Mission Control.
Google+ Hangouts was intentionally built to host public forums that anyone can join. This means anyone on the World Wide Web is allowed to join your hangout. Granted, you can purchase the Google Apps for Business private hangouts option, but beware, setting up private hangouts is an added complication that requires some careful planning.
Google+ Hangouts like all Google-affiliated products collects information about your web comings and goings to give you relevant advertising. Furthermore, while all video and audio are encrypted from your computer to Google servers, you may be surprised to know that the way its video architecture is set up, Google needs to first decrypt your audio and video before sending it on. This means potential security leaks and that Google has access to your information.
If privacy is one of your concerns, it’s better to VSee than Hangout with Google.
Why use Google+ Hangouts?
Google+ Hangouts is great for media folk who are trying to get anyone and everyone to join their hangout. In fact, one of its most popular features is Hangouts On Air. Like OnTheAir, Watchitoo, or OpenTok, Hangouts On Air is a simple way to do live broadcasting to thousands of viewers.
Furthermore, Google has been working hard to enter the enterprise collaboration space by tweaking its consumer products. They’ve added the ability to start a hangout from your gmail account and are working on the ability to schedule a hangout into your Google Calendar. That being said, while its tools have great potential, Google would be hard-pressed to say that its tools are prêt-à-porter for enterprises. As, Brainyard columnist Thomas Claburn writes “the service presently lacks data leak prevention and archiving capabilities.”
Finally, what can I say? Everybody loves Google 🙂
Hangouts: Customer Contact On Steroids
Google+ Ready for Business?
Google+ for Businesses
How to Divorce Google
Last updated: Nov 14, 2012