Service Alert: Photo Sharing in Hangouts Chat

The photo-sharing functionality in Hangouts is changing. Going forward, the ability to share photos and other multimedia in Hangouts Chat will be set by the Picasa Web Albums service rather than by the Google+ service.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If Google+ is enabled in your domain, no further action is necessary. Google+ requires Picasa Web Albums so you can continue to share photos using Hangouts Chat just like you always have.
  • If Google+ is not enabled for your domain and you want to use the photo-sharing functionality in Hangouts Chat, you must turn on the Picasa Web Albums service in your Admin console.

Please note that Google+ and Picasa Web Albums are additional services and aren’t subject to the core terms of service for your Google Apps account agreement. The functionality change will take effect in the next few days.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to visit the Google Apps Help Center or contact us immediately to learn more about using Hangouts in your organization.

Hangouts and Chromebox for Meetings Grow Up

Based on customer and user feedback, Google announced today a set of major improvements for both Hangouts within Google Apps and Chromebox for Meetings.

Hangout Updates

  • Hangouts is now a core Google Apps for Business product, covered under the full Terms of Service that supports Gmail, Drive, Sites, and other core services.  This means that Hangouts are eligible for Google’s support, 99.9% uptime guarantee, and is ISO 270001, SSAE 16/ISAE 4302, and SOC-2 certified.
  • Google Apps account users can now include up to 15 full participants without creating a Google+ Profile.
  • New partners, like Blue Jeans, enable people on traditional video conferencing systems to join video meetings.

Chromebox for Meetings

  • You can now connect two displays to one Chromebox for Meetings device, so you can see your audience and your projected presentation/screen at the same time.
  • From the Google Apps Admin Console, IT admins can better manage meetings, including: remotely starting meetings, muting, and hanging up meetings.

You can learn more about these features on Google’s Official Enterprise Blog post.

If you want to better understand how Hangouts and Chromebox for Meetings can help your business, please send us a note.





5th of 5: More Ways to Collaborate in Google Apps

Hangouts Icon
Google Apps is designed for secure sharing and collaborations.  Many users, however, still rely on the back-and-forth of email to get their work done.  Here is the 5th of 5 other ways to collaborate in Google Apps.

Use Google Drive with Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is more than a basic, HD quality, audio and video conferencing system. Hangouts let you conduct one-to-one and group video and chat sessions from your desk, laptop, tablet, or smart phone.

Some project managers  have team members join a Hangout, mute themselves to work independently, and unmute when they need to integrate with team members.

Install the Google Drive script for Google Hangouts and team members can review, edit, and discuss documents during the video meeting.

Enable your team to do more with Google Apps and get more done.  They will thank you!  Contact us to learn about self-paced, live, and custom training options.

Managing Web Meetings and Hangouts

As more organizations adopt Hangouts and other web meeting tools, some of the etiquette rules common for in-person meetings warrant an updated (or just a friendly reminder).

Here are 5 ways to better manage web meetings

1) Understand and Manage the Technology

Make sure you understand how to use the technology and take time to hold practice meetings to tune your skills.  In addition to leading the meeting, you may need to manage features such as mute, document sharing, desktop sharing, chat, and questions.  You may also be managing which video feed attendees see by default.  Controlling these features while conducing a meeting takes practice.  In some cases, you may want to have a “producer” work the controls for you.

2) Define Your Purpose and Outcome

All meetings should have a purpose.  Before scheduling the meeting, define your purpose. Whether to discuss an issue, review status, or make decisions, communicate the purpose clearly with invitees and set expectations so that people arrive on time and prepared.

Consider the desired outcome as well.  Who are the key stakeholders and who are the influencers?  What do you want attendees to think or do after the meeting?  Keep in mind that “Deciding between A and B” is a different desired outcome than “Decide to do A and not B”.

3) Be Professional

Preparation is critical.  More than an agenda, provide invitees with appropriate background materials and sufficient time to review and formulate questions or concerns. Solicit input and suggestions of issues that may arise in the meeting so that you may address or alleviate these before the meeting.

4) Make Your Points; Support Your Ideas

During the meeting, present and speak confidently.  It is fine to be assertive, but not aggressive or defensive.  Be clear.  Be concise.  Organize your thoughts and make your point in a concise statement.  Continue with supporting information as needed.

Questions will be asked.  Expect them, be ready to answer, have your supporting facts and opinions, and don’t take them personally.

5) Manage Conflicts and Stay in Control

Conflicts will happen.  While never desirable and sometimes unpleasant, with sound preparation and confident meeting skills, conflicts can be managed.

Understand who is attending the meetings and, as much as possible, their priorities and viewpoints.  After providing an agenda and supporting materials in advance, solicit invitees for issues and concerns.  Don’t wait for the meeting; start to work on resolving them before the meeting.

If conflict is anticipated, or arises during the meeting, step back and introduce more formality.  Refresh the structure of the meeting and how people can best participate.  Keep the meeting focused on the agenda, and control the microphones if needed to maintain order.

With planning and practice, web meetings will take advantage of the convenience and ability to share information dynamically, without sacrificing decorum and effective outcomes.



Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps: OFF for a Reason

As Google prepares to replace Google Talk with Google+ Hangouts, customers expect to benefit from the improved audio/video quality and features that Hangouts offer over Talk.

There are very good reasons why Google+ Hangouts are OFF by default in Google Apps for Business (Gov and Edu, too).  Before you turn on Google+ Hangouts, understand the current ramifications.

  • Preview Mode:  Google+ Hangouts are not yet officially released and, as such, get “best effort” support as opposed the technical support under the Terms of Service.
  • Incompatibility:  Google+ Hangouts are not compatible with Google Apps Vault.  Any organization that plan on using Vault, or that may need to use Vault, should not opt-in to Google+ Hangouts.
  • Data Location:  Google Apps customers under data location restrictions cannot opt-in to Vault.
  • No Enterprise Controls:  These controls are not yet available for Google+ Hangouts at this time.  As such, there are no warnings for users when chatting outside the domain and there is no way to block users’ chat status outside of the domain.

Google advises enterprise environments to continue using Google Talk for instant messaging, voice, and video conferencing.

Cumulus Global shares this recommendation, as the implications of adding Google+ Hangouts is not fully understood.  Organizations interested in a test domain may contact us for assistance.