Ever since Hangouts launched, and allowed 10-way video conferences, I knew it’s by far Google+’s most compelling feature, because with it, they could basically create a “next-level” social network of some kind. If Facebook was all about social sharing of photos, Google+ could be all about “social” video-chatting. After all, that’s why it received the name “Hangouts”, too.
But Hangouts had much more potential than social video-chatting. You can now also watch live concerts or interviews with Hangouts on Air, you can have Hangouts with politicians, and with the new Helpouts service, you can ask for professional help for all sorts of things, from getting rid of a computer virus, or fixing your garage door, to learning a new language – all for a price, of course.
You can select your expert based on qualifications, rating, price or popularity. The expert doesn’t even have to be some random guy on the Internet, because you’ll also be able to ask for help from brands such as Sephora, One Medical, Weight Watchers, Redbeacon (a Home Depot company), and Rosetta Stone. In a Helpout, you can also share your computer screen, collaboratively edit a presentation, or record your Helpout. If you don’t think the Helpout expert was helpful, you can even ask for your money back, from Google.
The Helpouts service isn’t launching fully to the public today. Right now there are only a few categories you can choose from, and the experts themselves need to get in through an invitation-only system, for now. Google wants to make this a truly global service, though, so I don’t think it will be long until it’s open for everyone. They probably want to test things out at first, see what kind of experts they can accept, because otherwise that full money-back guarantee could end up costing them a lot of money.
It will be interesting to see what price levels the first experts will set-up for their sessions or per minute. I assume it will be pretty expensive at first, but the prices will probably come down once Google opens it up for everyone, and there’s a lot more competition. The early adopters may be able to take advantage of being first, and gain a lot of popularity early on, though, so if it interests you to become a Helpout expert, you might want to start asking around for an invite for the Helpouts service.