Google has brought the concept of advice videos to its Hangouts service with a new service called, appropriately called Helpouts. Users can access free and paid advice through live video chat sessions, which can be recorded, scheduled and, of course, shared on Google+.
It's a new way of responding to that often heard response to difficult questions — Google It!
How to Get Online Help
Websites like Lydia.com and YouTube have long been the repository of some great help videos and tutorials. But contrary to what you might think, users still have hard times finding plenty of needed information on the web. Much of that information is in people's heads, Iska Hain, a Google spokesperson told us in an email.
One way to get at that information is to video chat with experts, like you can now do on Helpouts. Already, a small group of health, technology, cooking, home and garden experts are sharing their knowledge. Prices range from free for basic cooking tips up to as much as $400 for a two-hour GMAT test preparation class.
So far, there are eight categories of Helpouts to choose from: Art and Music, Computers and Electronics, Cooking, Education and Careers, Fashion and Beauty, Fitness and Nutrition, Home and Garden and Health. Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google, wrote in a blog post that the service is starting small. Users can offer to create their own Helpouts, he noted, simply by agreeing to the service's terms of service.
If you want to get advice, you need a Google+ account as well as a Webcam and microphone. Otherwise, the service works just like a Hangout session.
The top three computer and electronics Helpouts
Pay with Google Wallet
It's likely no surprise that the computers and electronics category is currently the most popular. The top 10 experts in this category all have at least 24 reviews. In comparison, the most reviewed expert in health has just 10 reviews.
But the single most popular Helpout so far appears to be a Weight Watchers session, which explains how to keep your weight in control through the holiday season. It has more than 80 reviews.
Users can pay to attend Helpouts by signing up for Google Wallet — an app that has been downloaded tens of millions of times, but has only a 3.3 rating on Google Play.
However, users do not need to set up Google Wallet if they only access free Helpouts. That could change of course, and so could the fact that there are currently no ads in Helpouts. Hain didn't comment on the possibility that ads would be introduced.
Are Helpouts a game changing idea? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.