The disintegration of Google+ continues with one of the failed social network’s key features disappearing. With little fanfare or announcement, Google posted a note to its YouTube support pages that Google+ Hangouts on Air live web broadcasts will cease to be available come September 12. After that date all Hangouts on Air will have to happen on YouTube Live—where the feature already exists.
The service is also being renamed Google Hangouts On Air, which notably drops the “plus” symbol from the name. Hangouts on Air first debuted in September 2011 as an easy way to turn your group chats into a live public broadcast.
The service was restricted to particularly notable users at first, but finally went live for everyone in May 2012. Although YouTube’s help page says Hangouts On Air is moving from Google+ to YouTube Live, that’s not quite accurate. Hangouts on Air have been a part of YouTube Live since December 2013 when Google opened YouTube Live to anyone with a verified YouTube account that was in good standing. On YouTube, Hangouts on Air serves as a quick and easy way to start a webcast for broadcasters who don’t need control of encoding and other advanced features.
Why this matters: Google is slowly moving features away from the waning Google+, and either removing them entirely or replacing them with something else. The end of Hangouts on Air for Google+ comes around the time that Google is making changes on Android to end the reign of its social network. The company recently removed the “+1” button from app profiles, and there’s a rumor that you soon won’t need a Google+ profile to review an app or game in Google Play.