Google opens 'how-to shop' with live video advice

2013-11-06 14:10
Google headquarters. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, AFP)

Google headquarters. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

San Francisco - Google has opened a how-to shop that sells expert advice on everything from cosmetics to the cosmos in live video sessions streamed on computers and smartphones.

The service, called Helpouts, began taking calls for help Tuesday and offer connections to more than 1 000 merchants, instructors, websites and health care specialists who cleared Google's background checks.

It represents Google's latest attempt to play an instrumental role in helping people manage their lives. Since establishing its search engine as the go-to place to find information online, Google has expanded into giving directions on digital maps and introduced a virtual assistant that is designed to learn about users' interests so it can provide helpful tips without prompting.

Helpouts is meant to fill the gaps in Google's search engine, which sometimes delivers unsatisfactory results because the answers being sought aren't available on a website, said Udi Manber, a Google executive overseeing the new service.

"Sometimes, you need someone to look over your shoulder. Sometimes you need someone to show you the way," Manber said.

For starters, Helpouts is offering to connect people with experts in eight different categories: art and music; computers and electronics; cooking; education and careers; fashion and beauty; fitness and nutrition; health; and home and garden.

Google Plus required

The fees will be set by each expert, with 20% of the revenue going to Google for most video chats. For now, the Mountain View, California, company isn't collecting a commission for health advice.

Experts can charge a flat-fee per session or by the minute. If the advice is unsatisfactory, Google is promising to refund the money.

A Helpouts application is being offered for smartphones running on Google's Android software. The service isn't yet available for Apple's iPhone or other mobile devices running on different software.

Besides opening up a source of new revenue for Google, Helpouts could give more people a reason to set up a profile on the company's social network, Google Plus. That's because a Google Plus account is required to seek advice on Helpouts.

The company says it currently has about 540 million Google Plus users.

Helpouts is similar to several other online services that already provide connections to experts in various fields. Pearl.com, a San Francisco startup formerly known as JustAnswer.com, also sells live video sessions on a wide variety of subjects.

HealthTap dispenses medical advice and RocketLawyer specialises in legal matters. Google's new service also may end up competing with the company's own YouTube video site, which offers a wide array of how-to clips for free.

This isn't the first time that Google has tried to supplement its search engine with the knowledge of human experts. The company also once ran a service that hired researchers to field questions about homework and other subjects.

That service, which charged anywhere from $2 to $200 per question, closed down seven years ago.


Read more on:    google  |  apple  |  us  |  social networks

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.