Updated 23 May, 2013, 8:40 am IST
Sign Language app makes G+ Hangouts more accessible for hearing impaired
| by Anuradha Shetty |
Google is introducing two accessibility improvements in Google+ Hangouts. The first one's a Sign Language Interpreter app for the service's deaf or hard of hearing users who prefer using sign language. They can invite interpreters to speak and/or interpret for them during a Hangout. Those using this app will always see their interpreter at the top right of the window, and they'll become the focus of the Hangout whenever their interpreter speaks for them. To install the app, click here.
Additionally, keyboard shortcuts are now available for those who prefer doing away with the mouse during a video chat. You can now press Ctrl+D (PC) or Command+D (Mac) to mute your microphone, and start chatting with Ctrl+B (PC) or Command+B (Mac). To view the full list of keyboard shortcuts just type "?". Google said the features would be rolled out gradually.
Making it accessible for everyone
Google launched two new features last month to improve the Hangouts experience for people with slow Internet connections. First among these is the bandwidth slider. Users will spot a new slider at the top right of every hangout, which they use to can adjust their bandwidth preferences in real-time.
Then there is the audio-only mode feature that allows users to send and receive audio only, thereby reducing the amount of bandwidth required. On the other side of the Hangout, participants can see only your profile picture, but can hear you loud and clear.
These are useful additions, since this way users even in areas of limited or unreliable connectivity can enjoy this Hangouts in the best way possible.
Recently, Google rolled out Hangouts for Gmail users in India. Google+ Hangouts allows Gmail users to add up to nine people to a voice chat. Using Hangouts, Gmail users can watch YouTube videos with their friends, collaborate on Google Docs, or play games by adding apps from a menu. Those with a slow connection can opt for the 'Low Bandwidth' mode.
To begin using Google+ Hangouts, you have to click the Hangout button on the top of the chat list in Gmail. Users can also schedule a hangout using Google Calendar.
Google hasn't been lazy with rolling out updates and improving the user experience on Gmail. Following a recent update, Gmail gave users the ability to add labels and stars to their messages right in the new Compose box. To star a message or label it, you will have to click on the 'More' options menu at the bottom right and hover on the Label option there.
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