Google has added a new feature to their Hangouts service on Google Plus.
This feature is aimed at people on slower connections. They can now turn on a setting that would disable the video thumbnails running at the bottom saving them bandwidth.
It also optimizes the video quality to work on slower connections.
Google developers said:
So today we’ve enabled a low bandwidth setting for hangouts. If you’re somewhere where internet bandwidth is limited… whether it’s a remote location or hotel with a slower connection. Go to settings in hangouts and switch to “_slow connection_” mode. This turns off live video for the thumbnails (you can still green box), and it also reduces your main video resolution & frame rate. But it lets the conversation carry on!