Making it possible to carry on conversations in poor network conditions
Hangouts is one of Google+'s standout feature and for good reason it's still the best group video chat tool around and the cheapest (it's free). Simple video chat can be taxing on bandwidth, getting several more people involved only adds to the problem.Until now, Hangouts dealt with bandwidth issues automatically, adjusting the quality of the video and audio automatically to match the network conditions.
Now, it's possible to adjust the quality manually, giving users more control over the feature and making it possible to maintain a working stream when network conditions vary.
For one, there's now a bandwidth slider that allows users to adjust how much bandwidth they're using. This is useful if the connection is poor but also if you don't want to use up too much of your mobile monthly data allowance.
There's also the possibility of cutting the video feed and just streaming audio. Everyone else in the conversation will see your profile photo instead of the video stream, but the quality of the audio will be much better.