Google Helpouts – Everything you need to know

May 9, 2014
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Google Helpouts is a newer service out of Google that wants to get people the help they need. Of course, you can search for anything on the internet and get it for free and many people are asking why they should use Google Helpouts. In this review, we’ll find out the answer to that question.


Google Helpouts review

Functionality

A lot of people know about Helpouts already but we’ll go over it again for those who may not know. Helpouts is a platform where people can go to find help. You simply to go the site, type in the subject, and you’ll be given the option to have a live person help you over video chat. Think of it like tech support but for almost any subject and you chat with a person face to face instead of over a phone or in a text chat.

Okay so here’s how it works. First you need to develop a problem. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen but in the event that it does, you would go to helpouts.google.com either search for your problem or you can scroll down and browse the various categories. It can take a minute as a keyword can bring a lot of results from a lot of categories, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find what you’re looking for.

Once you find the Helpout, your next step is to get into it. You can start a Helpout right away or you can schedule one for later if your problem can be solved at a later date. Sometimes you have to schedule it because not all helpouts are immediately available. This is a common with popular Helpouts.

During this process you’ll also need to secure a payment method for a Helpouts chat if it’s not a free one. You’ll need Google Wallet for this. If you don’t have one, it’s fairly easy to set up. Once you have secured your payment method you’re ready to go.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you simply have your Helpouts and that’s it. Helpout sessions can short or long depending on your spending limit and your scheduled time. If you’ve ever been in a hangouts video call before, then you know how they work. You simply have a video call with someone that you’re paying to help you.

You can also perform this entire process through the Android application if you so choose. The application can do everything the web version can and that’s always comforting. So if your problem is either somewhere where you don’t have a computer or it’s because your computer is broken, you can still access a Helpouts if need be.


Google Helpouts

How can I use this?

So how can you use this? For anything really. I went diving in to see what topics I could find and there really is a bunch of unique stuff. You can find anything from yoga poses and food preparation to creating 3D parallax video clips out of 2D photographs. Simple concepts like tech support to more complex things like writing a novel. It even has weird and specifically specialized stuff like Aquaphonics and balloon animal instructions.

Critics of Helpouts have pointed out that you can find most of this stuff on the internet free of charge and that’s true. You can find tutorials for pretty much anything that explains how to do pretty much everything.

However, there is an inherent advantage to having someone knowledgeable to interact with and you don’t get that advantage when you read a WikiHow link. Having someone there to answer your specific questions and concerns can help streamline the learning process and reduce the amount of troubleshooting time significantly.


Google Helpouts Android

The good

Okay, let’s take a look at what’s good about Helpouts.

  • The website and the Android app work pretty much the same way so you can do whatever you want on both of them. This is a rare instance where the mobile platform and the web platform achieve near perfect parity and I always have respect for that because I don’t see it very often.
  • Helpouts has a vast number of topics. You can find help, obtain analysis, or learn about pretty much anything and Google is adding new topics all the time.
  • For the most part, Helpouts are reasonably priced. There are also free ones available if you’re looking to just try out the platform.
  • You can never argue the advantage of having someone live there to talk about your specific problem. Sometimes, you just need someone to sit down and walk you through a problem or a process so you can understand how it works and Helpouts delivers exactly that.
  • It’s a Google service which means it integrates with other Google products. If you use Hangouts and Google Wallet –and chances are if you use Android you have both of these things- then you already have all the tools you need to use Helpouts.
  • Thanks to Google’s strict approval process, most Helpouts are hosted by people who know what’s up in their particular topic. In most cases, this is not amateur hour.
  • Finally, it’s really easy to use. The mechanics are very simple because it is just a video chat over Hangouts with a professional that you pay for. There are no difficult parts about the process.

The bad

Of course, like any service there are some cons too. So here’s the bad.

  • Some Helpouts can be rather expensive. Granted, in most cases, the people who run them are seasoned professionals and it is how much you’d usually pay for that level of help anyway. However, people on a budget have expressed that they wish some of the pricing was cheaper.
  • There are some country restrictions. I don’t have a definitive list on where it does or does not work but you’ll know when you try to do a Helpouts. Also, if you want to host a Helpouts, the country limitations are much more restrictive.
  • Finding the right topic can require some creative searching as a few keywords overlap. For instance, if you search for “driving help”, you won’t get any results for driving a car but you’ll get a bunch for Google Drive help. So if you search for something and the results you were expecting do not come up, try using different keywords.

Google Helpouts review 2

Final thoughts

Overall, this is an amazing platform. It has its detractors but so does everything ever and in this case I would highly recommend that you try it out for yourself to see if you like it. There are free topics to get your feet wet and it’s a great way to get personalized help in a surprisingly wide range of subjects. Seriously, even balloon animals.

The interface is easy to navigate and the process of paying for and getting into a Helpouts is as straightforward as you can reasonably expect it to be. There are some limitations here and there, sure, but the benefits of using Helpouts outweigh the limitations by a fairly large margin. If you want to try it out, simply head to helpouts.google.com to get started or if you want to try the Android app, just click on the button below.

If what I’ve said just isn’t hitting those strings and pushing those buttons, what if I told you that you could try it at a discount. For a limited time, if you use the promo code ANDROID-AUTH, you can get $20 off of your first paid Helpout. There’s also a link you can follow below that’ll help you automatically redeem that. So now you have $20 to try out your first Helpout and really, is there any reason not to try it?
Click here to get $20 off your first Helpouts session! (Limited time only)
Get it on Google Play

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