7. October 2012

Since Germany has been let into the Google+ hangout community in August, I’ve been regularly watching some hangouts, especially those from CosmoQuest and Universe Today. During these hangouts, I’ve noticed that there are often questions asked in the comments on how to view hangouts on Android devices. As an Android user myself, I’m going to show  in this short tutorial  how to make Hangout viewing possible under Android. I’m using an Odys Xelio, a low-price, but great little 7″ tablet which runs Android 4.0.3 and should represent most Android devices, both phones and tablets.   

There are basically only two methods to view the hangouts on Android and both involve the Youtube app, because playing Youtube videos inside a browser under Android is very unreliable and doesn’t seem to work on most devices. So the first step is to install the official Youtube app from the Play Store, which is highly recommended anyway and works great even on low-powered devices like the Xelio, which has only a 1.2 GHz single-core processor, but a powerful graphics engine, making video playback very easy.

Method 1: Use the Youtube app itself. Unfortunately you can’t manually enter a video URL and the hangouts don’t appear in the channels of those who started them. On starting the app, you should be on the main screen. Swipe right to open the sidebar and scroll down all the way to the section From Youtube and select Live!. Somewhere in the resulting list should be the hangout you want to see, but only if it’s actually running live at the moment. The list is unfortunately not searchable, because the search function on the top menu is only looking through the normal videos and not the live streams.

Method 2: Use the Google+ app to start the Youtube app. For this you need the newest version of the Google+ app, which the Play Store doesn’t install on some supposedly incompatible devices like the Odys Xelio. The current version is 3.1.1, but if a device only installs version 1.5 or lower, the APK file of the newest version can be found on the web and be manually installed. [Update June 2013: the latest version 4.x now works on all devices including the Xelio and can be installed directly from the Play Store.] To view the hangout, you need to have the user who started it in your circles. You will automatically get a notification in your circle stream that there is a hangout in progress, which you can view by clicking on the blue View Hangout button – this automatically starts the Youtube app with the hangout. This is necessary because the video embedded in an event page does not show up in the Android app, but many hangout producers now put a direct link to the video in the description or the comments, from which the Youtube app can also be started.

Once the hangout is playing, it’s of course not possible to read or post comments on the Google+ event page or on Youtube, because Android is not particularly multitasking-friendly. What I have not yet tried is of course to really participate in a hangout, because I’m not sure if my small tablet is capable of it. Nevertheless viewing works perfectly and I think it’s a great technical achievement – watching a live broadcast from a couple of people with webcams on a wireless device like a tablet or even a smartphone was science-fiction only one decade ago!

Please let me know if this works on your Android device, I’d like to hear about other users and their experience with Google+ hangouts on Android tablets and smartphones. You can leave a comment here on this post, but I’m also going to post a short intro and a link on my Google+ profile, on Facebook  and Twitter, where you can also leave messages.

Kategorie: Computer, WWW
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