Google+ Hangouts On Air now in HD, will roll out to all video calls too

Google announced on Wednesday that it has updated Google+ with HD-quality video for Hangouts.

Google's chat service will initially support HD only through Hangouts on Air, a live-streamed version of Hangouts available on Google+ or as embeds via YouTube, and then it will roll out to all desktop Hangout video calls “over the next few weeks”.

Google clarified in a Google+ post that HD Hangouts would require an HD-capable webcam, as well as "more bandwidth and more processing power than standard definition"

Read: Google+ for Android updated: Say goodbye to Messenger, hello to Hangouts

GigaOm reported on Wednesday that Google stopped using the H.264 video codec recently in favour of its own VP8 codec in order to enable HD in Hangouts. Chee Chew, the vice president of engineering at Google, told GigaOm that the transition to VP8 codec should be undetectable by users.

As for what else is in store for Hangouts, Chew said Google+ plans to adopt WebRTC for plugin-free video conferencing. The standard still has a long way to go before this is possible though, as many Google+ Hangout effects cannot function with WebRTC.

Google's goal is to one-day offer HD Hangouts in web browsers without any additional software or plugin downloads.