updated 01:50 pm EST, Wed December 14, 2011
Google Plus now starts Hangouts easily
Google+ gained a handful of new features surrounding Hangout video chats on Wednesday. It's now possible to turn any chat or post into a Hangout on the desktop, and the mobile apps now have a dedicated Hangout button during conversations to switch into video chat with whoever's involved. Either platform now has notifications of ongoing Hangouts, including background notifications for invitations on mobile hardware.
Google had already detailed a plan to even bring conventional phones into the mix through a dial-in option that brings Americans and Canadians into a Hangout for free and elsewhere at cheaper than usual long-distance rates.
Both Android and iOS users should see the expanded Hangouts options in the next few days.
The current broadcasting feature, On Air, is getting its own revision. Aling with widening access to "hundreds" more people with large audiences, it's now "self-service" and lets members start whenever they want. YouTube is now inherently tied to On Air and will by default create a private YouTube replay of any On Air session, similar to what Qik or Ustream have done in the past.
Google hasn't said if and when it plans to make On Air usable for everyone.