What is Google Helpouts?

Today Udi Mamber, VP of Engineering at Google, announced a new Google service called Google Helpouts.

The first time I heard the name, I thought, “Okay, so this a play on Google Hangouts and instead of just killing time with your friends you can now help them do something productive”.

That’s basically what Google Helpouts strives to achieve.  There’s a 1 minute Youtube video that shows how it works but the idea is really simple:

anyone can join live video sessions to get real-time help with real problems.

Google Helpouts Homepage

Let’s say you accidentally deleted some files or you need medical advice, you can search the Google Helpouts homepage to find a qualified expert to meet your needs.  In fact, you can browse through a myriad of Helpouts across eight broad categories:

  • Art & Music
  • Computers & Electronics
  • Cooking
  • Education & Careers
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Fitness and Nutrition
  • Health
  • Home & Garden

Almost all the Helpouts are rated and you can read Amazon.com style reviews for your potential expert.  Most are free but a few cost money.  However, the cool thing is that the price per Helpout and cost per minute is plainly listed on the site and you can easily get details about the cancellation policy and estimated duration of the Helpout.

Google Helpouts Find Expert

There are hundreds of experts waiting to help.

You just need four things to get started:

  1. A Google+ Account
  2. An internet connected computing device (Laptop, Tablet, Smartphone)
  3. Webcam
  4. Microphone

Built-in cams and mics work fine and if you don’t have a Google+ Account you’ll be prompted to create one on sign-up.

Also, I should mention if you have a skill you would like to share with the world, you easily do that too by getting an invitation code.  You can actually get paid for this so Hangouts can put a few extra dollars in your wallet every month.

Closing Thoughts

Google Helpouts kind of reminds me of Amazon Mayday, which is the first consumer electronics 24/7 on-demand video tech support service for Kindle Fire HDX users.  You can watch Mashable’s 4 minute video demonstration to get a better idea of how it works.  It’s essentially an integrated video-chat feature that let’s a support representative connect to your Kindle and fix things remotely.

Personally, I think Helpouts is a good idea.  I mean think about it: small business owners can offer instant help without having to worry about distance.  For example, a piano shop in San Francisco could offer lessons to students in New York City.  The other plus is that the interface is really simple and straightforward.

Finally, the user reviews feature is great because you can read what other people though about an expert before you commit to a purchase.

Check out the reviews for Matt Gibson who gives Rock Guitar Lessons:

Google Helpouts User Reviews

On the other side of the equation, you should realize that this is a new project; therefore, it may not be around in a year.  Google constantly innovates and many new projects have failed.

Well I shouldn’t say failed.  Many new projects have died.  Google kills off stuff that doesn’t work (Think about Google Wave and Google Reader) and is constantly experimenting with new ideas but the result is the same: people get excited about a new Google endeavor only to have it pulled out from under them as Google changes direction or decides the project isn’t worthy of development.

Yes, it’s true that Google Helpouts might not last past a year  but from what I can see (and based off user feedback), it looks like a promising project and I really hope it works.

Do you think Google Helpouts will still be around this time next year?  How would you guys feel about a fixedByVonnie Helpout?  Let me know in the comments!


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