Video chat apps and services aren’t very useful if they don’t allow you to send files or invite several people to the same chat session. Another much in-demand feature is the ability to remotely access the desktop of whoever you’re chatting with, in order to help them do something or troubleshoot some problem. There’s great news on this front for Google+ users – the feature, has been added to Google Plus Hangouts in the form of an app. The great thing about Google Plus Hangouts, like Gmail Chat, is that your browser is the only thing you need to start a video call and invite multiple people to it, and you can now remotely control someone’s desktop just as easily. Here’s how.
Start a Google Plus hangout; you need not have an active chat partner if you’re just setting up the remote access feature for future use. From the left column, click ‘View more apps’ and install the ‘Remote Access’ app from the popup that appears.
The app will appear with the other ones installed by default in the left column. Your chat partner need not have the app installed on their end to receive help from you; it only needs to be present on the computer from which the remote access request is being initiated, and from which the other computer will be accessed.
Click the ‘Remote Desktop’ app and dismiss the first popup. It will then ask you which chat member in the current Hangout you want to help. If you’re the one receiving help, a small blue bar will appear just below the video stream, allowing you to accept or decline the incoming connection.
Provided your recipient has accepted your request, you and everyone else in the hangout will be able to see your desktop.
The connection can be terminated from either end. Other participants in the Hangout will act more or less as spectators, as they have no control over the computer themselves. The users getting helped don’t lose control of their own system. When you move your mouse, you will see that the mouse on the other desktop mimics your movement. It’s basically two desktops and one cursor, so control might be an issue between the two of you. The service is quite responsive though. The great thing about this app is that it allows several people to see what’s happening on the desktop in question, and they can provide feedback to help troubleshoot things better.
If you’re looking for a similar remote access solution that doesn’t involve a chat or social media service but is still easily set up using your browser, you can give Chrome Remote Desktop BETA a try instead.