Google Hangouts Goes HD 720p
Google on Wednesday announced that it is bringing HD-quality video to Google Hangouts. The rollout will start with Hangouts on Air, the live-streamed version of Hangouts that makes group chats available for viewing. Everybody else will be able to get access to this feature over the next few weeks.
” We are rolling hd out to hangouts on air initially, then to all desktop hangout video calls over the next few weeks” Google VP of Engineering Chee Chew posted.
Also in the update posted, its been noted that the higher video quality obviously requires an HD-capable webcam, as well as more bandwidth and processing power than a regular video chat.
In this move the company also switched from using the H.264 video codec to its own open VP8 codec. Actually Google has begun phasing out the H.264 codec in favor of VP8, an open standard that Google created a few years back. VP8 is just a stepping stone to Google’s ultimate goal of moving Hangouts to WebRTC, however, which will be natively supported by most browsers (notable exception: Apple’s Safari).
In the long run, Chee Chew told Gigaom, the team also plans to embrace WebRTC for plugin-free video conferencing, but to do so, the standard still has to mature. It’s also currently not possible for Google to apply many of the effects it offers in Google+ Hangouts through WebRTC. Given these restrictions, it will likely take quite a while before the Hangouts team can enable WebRTC for all of its users.
Eventually the company will switch over to WebRTC as previously indicated when Google Hangouts was first launched two years ago.
Apart from an HD version of Google Hangouts, last December, Google launched a low-bandwidth version of Hangouts with a bandwidth requirement of just 150 kbps.