From live concerts to political discussions, Google+ Hangouts has become a handy communication tool for brands and businesses with global audiences. This week, Google introduced new functionality that aims to make participating in a live On Air Hangout easier for you and your viewers.

The most notable update is the ability to rewind live broadcasts. One of the challenges of having a global audience is scheduling. Depending on when your On Air Hangout begins, it’s likely that there will be some stragglers who miss the first few minutes, or even the first half. But instead of waiting for the full video to upload to YouTube, now viewers can rewind live broadcasts, regardless of when they started watching.

A smaller, but welcomed update is the ability to start live broadcasts without having to refresh. Previously, if viewers tuned in on YouTube or Google+ Events before the start time, they’d have to refresh the page to see the live broadcast. Now, when someone visits a page with a Hangout On Air the video will begin playing as soon as it started — no refresh required.

Other improvements include access to recordings immediately after your broadcast, which means you can begin sharing it much faster. Previously you had to wait for it to process. Additionally, Google promises higher quality Hangouts On Air on mobile devices.

The company did note that it might take longer to set up a Hangout On Air as part of these enhancements. For example, the “start broadcasting” button might be grayed out for a bit before it turns red. If you experience this during your next Hangout, don’t panic — it’s just Google getting everything in place before you go live.

[Via: The Next Web, Image credit: David Burillo]