Gmail launches Google Hangouts in India for free video-conferencing

Google India has launched its free video-conferencing tool, Google Hangouts, to users of Gmail in India.

Earlier all videoconferencing in Gmail, google’s free email service, used to happen on a “peer to peer” basis. In other words, the video call would go straight from one user to another, like a phone call.

With Hangouts, the meetings will now take place with the help of Google’s servers.

Users in India will have to download a gmail plugin for hangouts from Google’s download page to use the service. They may have to uninstall the Google video chat plugin first.

Unlike video chat, which works only on a one-to-one basis, Hangout supports up to nine people in one conversation. Besides, the quality of the video will be much higher than earlier.

The service was rolled out in Western markets more than six months ago.

“With Hangouts you can watch YouTube videos with friends, collaborate on Google Docs, or play games by adding apps from the menu on the left. If you find yourself with a slow connection, just switch over to ultra low bandwidth mode to keep the conversation going,” Google said.

Meetings can include iPhone and Android users.

The service is comparable to the Group video chat from Skype. However, unlike Hangouts, the Skype services is not free. The new service is likely to appeal to companies, especially, small ones, who do not want to spend money to be able to do virtual meetings.