Wednesday 6 November 2013

Google launches Helpouts for live expert advice on just about everything

Google has launched Helpouts (, a paid live video service for users. It offers Hangouts-like video chat that connects users with experts who will answer questions about a wide range of questions. Users can ask questions just about everything such as home improvement, fixing a computer, applying makeup, playing a musical instrument and more.

Helpouts will act as a marketplace where approved companies can participate in real-time conversations over video. Currently, Google has invited around 1,000 companies, and the marketplace will continue to be "invitation only" for the time being. Vendors are also allowed to set their own prices. The charges are per minute or per session, and Google also plans to introduce several free services. The search giant reportedly takes 20 percent of each transaction. Users can choose to set up an appointment with a specific company or simply speak to the company that is available to answer their queries.

The payments are accepted only via Google Wallet, and the video conferencing is done using Google+ Hangouts. It is mandatory to create/own a Google+ profile to join a Helpout. Google has also added a couple of safety measures. For instance, users can immediately exit a video call. A user can instantly report a vendor or vice versa, if there is any form of harassment or inappropriate behavior.

Users will also be asked to leave feedback after every live conversation. This also means that the marketplace will generate a lot of customer reviews. Users can also ask for full refund incase they feel they’ve been shortchanged with the advice offered. Moreover, users can get a session for free if a vendor is later than five minutes or claims to be available but does not start the video conference.

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