Google opens how-to shop with live video advice streamed to customers


AP

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 offers connections to more than 1,000 merchants, instructors, websites and health care specialists who cleared Google Inc.’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.