Social network Google+ is continuing its march to become the go-to destination for public-facing professionals as well as an internal business tool by adding the ability for users to field curated questions from an online audience.
Google's video conferencing and broadcasting tool Hangouts has already seen use as a platform for debates, podcasts and tutorials, and this latest addition will give the hosts of these live streams real control over questions coming in from their audience.
The update could prove to be useful for corporate users, with investor calls and internal conferences now easily accessible to many more viewers who have questions.
The update will allow for up to one million concurrent users to ask questions, and also adds the ability for viewers to vote on questions they would like to see answered. When a broadcaster selects a question to be answered, it is highlighted for all users to see, and also appears as a time-stamped note in recorded broadcasts so viewers looking for specific content can jump to it immediately.
Amit Fulay, Google+ Hangouts product manager, confirmed that the Q&A update would be rolled out over the next few days for the desktop version of the website, while Android would receive functionality to view questions and live streams, but not interact.
Q&A Hangouts is the latest in a series of updates which is gradually setting Google+ apart from its social networking rivals Facebook and Twitter. Having added social collaboration functionality through a new set of APIs in addition to heavily integrating its Apps products, the network is becoming a unique player in the market, finding a niche somewhere between professional, public-facing social networks and private, friend-based websites.
Google+ is touted as having more than 350 million active users, although that number is disputed due to the integration of Google+ into many other of Google's headline products such as search and YouTube.
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