Today, Google launches a new product called ‘Helpouts‘, a new website that allows users to get in touch with experts and pay them for services over video chat. Google sees it being used for things like cooking tips, home repair, guitar lessons, and even healthcare.
Announced last August, the service is now live with a small set of partners, including Weight Watchers, Sephora, and One Medical. That list is limited by design — for now, Google is vetting anybody that wants to offer Helpout services with a full background check and keeping the categories of services offered relatively short.
The video chat services will be offered in a wide range of prices — from free with volunteers up to $20 per hour or more. Users will be able to rate the experts they work with and said experts will have a few tools to block users (should it come to that). Google gets a 20% cut and is offering a money-back guarantee if things don’t work out.
This 20% cut might help explain why this service, which is largely based on the cross-platform Hangouts tool, is only available on the web and on Android — Google has not yet decided whether or how to deal with Apple’s own App Store policies and margins. The website for Hangouts looks very much like a one-off custom version of Google+, and even shares some of the same Hangouts on Air features that have been baked into that product. Each expert has a landing page where users can schedule a future Helpout or start one immediately. Users are identified with their public Google+ profiles — so each party knows who is calling, but nothing is posted publicly to Google+. If both parties agree, a Helpout chat can be saved for later review.
As huge fans of Google+ and Google products we’ve been keen to see Helpouts and believe it’ll be a great service for those looking for a personal service when it comes to specific, possibly quick-fix, issues. We applied to be a provider on this service when it was first announced and have been invited to sign up, so watch this space!
[Source: CNN; Tech Crunch; The Verge; Google Helpouts]