Google’s latest product, dubbed “Helpouts”, is an advice website with a difference: it aims at putting people in touch with experts who are prepared to give one-on-one video-chat advice for a fee.
First announced in August, the service has now gone live with a small group of experts and partners such as Weight Watchers, Sephora and One Medical. Anyone interested in offering their advice over Helpouts has a while to wait though, as Google has a very strict back ground check policy, and is keeping the list of potential topics relatively short for now.
In essence, Helpouts is similar to Google’s Hangouts video chat, with the main difference being that users can scroll through the list of verified experts for advice on topics such as cooking, DIY instructions, and health.
Anyone who has formed part of a large online community has probably grown used to asking fellow users questions, but the advice given may sometimes be questionable. Websites such as Yahoo Answers are famous for offering free advice from large groups of users, but often the answers given conflict or are not backed up by concrete knowledge. The difference with Helpouts is that the person giving the advice will have to be approved as an expert in the field; though what qualifies them as such in Google’s eyes remains to be seen.
Helpouts will be available to users on mobile devices as well as through traditional browsers, and payments can be made to providers through Google Wallet.