Google is killing off Hangouts on Air in September

Google has announced that Hangouts on Air — the live-streaming service once used by Barack Obama and Pope Francis — will be mostly discontinued next month. A new post over at Google’s YouTube support page lays out the details for Hangouts on Air users, who will have to use YouTube Live to handle all their live-streaming needs starting September 12th. That includes events that were already scheduled for after that date, too.

Google’s post features a walkthrough of how users will be able to start, schedule, and control live streams after the switchover. The company also calls out a few specific features of Hangouts on Air that are being left behind. The native QA feature, which was part of the bedrock of Hangouts on Air, is being discontinued; instead, Google wants broadcasters to use social media or the QA feature of Google Slides to field questions and communicate with viewers during live streams. Other features, like “Showcase” and “Applause” are also being cut.

Another once-touted product bites the dust

Hangouts on Air was created in 2012 when Google added live-streaming and community features to its existing Hangouts product. It was a shrewd move — it came at a time when live-streaming products were much harder to come by than they are today, and so Google promoted it hard by having big names like Obama perform live broadcasts that were heavy on QA. In turn, the core product (plus an early run of new features and support from Google) also attracted plenty of users — podcasters, especially.

YouTube Live was rolled out the following year, and Google wasted no time loosely tying the two streaming services together — it leveraged YouTube’s infrastructure to increase the device compatibility of Hangouts on Air, as well as to store streams post-broadcast. But even as Google tried to build up Hangouts on Air, it always seemed like YouTube was a more natural fit for livestreaming. In that respect, Google is treating Hangouts on Air the same way it handled Google+ — take what works, find new home for those features, and sweep the hollowed-out shell under the rug.

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