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Google just launched video and voice chat today for both PC and Mac. My first reaction? That is so cool. The only problem is the announcement went out before they had actually activated many accounts. Including mine. Luckily, I had the email address of the Google […]

Gmail voice and video chat

Google just launched video and voice chat today for both PC and Mac. My first reaction? That is so cool.

The only problem is the announcement went out before they had actually activated many accounts. Including mine. Luckily, I had the email address of the Google contact who sent out the announcement, and he spent some time troubleshooting with me. First order of business? Getting my email account activated as well as that of my initial Gmail voice and video chat guinea pig, Scott from Alaska HDTV (@alaskapodshow on Twitter).

After about an hour, Scott still could not see the video options in his Gmail chat box. While he and I continued to restart browsers and compare notes, I received a text chat message from my friend Kris, a multimedia producer and documentary filmmaker in Brooklyn (@krisbritt on Twitter). She had seen my Tweets about my attempts to test out the new Gmail voice and video chat.

I invited her to video chat and within moments and after just a few rings, the video chat window opened, and there was Kris. The picture was clear, the sound was clear.

Right away I thought “This is much better than Skype.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love Skype, but it can fizzle and pop now and then.  WWD blogger Samuel Dean also tested Gmail voice and video chat and points out that it falls short compared to Skype because it doesn’t connect calls to landlines and doesn’t offer voice mail. It does, however, allow you to record a video chat. Ah, the possibilities!

Right away, Kris echoed my feelings that Gmail voice and video chat is convenient and a great addition to the Google suite of tools – perfect, for example, to use while reviewing a Google Doc with someone else. Having video and voice chat within Gmail also means you’ll get more functionality with less open applications and windows.

Gmail voice and video chat

Some quick things to know before you dash off to download the video chat add-on for your browser:

1. Your account must be activated by Google for video, and this could take a few more days.

2. Your chat friend must have Gmail voice and video chat add-on installed for it to work. Otherwise they will be directed to the download page for the add-on.

3. You can tell if a friend is video-chat enabled by a little video camera icon to the left of their name on the contacts Chat List in your Gmail account.

4. You can invite someone to video chat with the Video Options button at the bottom of the chat box.

5. You can pop out the video into it’s own window and move it around as well as open it to full screen.

One possible software conflict? The latest Flash player may interfere with the proper installation of the video add-on (this is just a guess from Scott who eventually switched computers and was able to video chat immediately).

Troubleshooting tips? Make sure your browser is closed before you install the add-on. Then you may have to restart your browser a few times until it takes. Just something anecdotal. Probably not in the manual.

Have long did it take to get Gmail voice and video chat to work for you? What do you think you’ll use it for?

  1. Not working for me. As soon as either IE, FF, or Chrome enters Gmail > Settings > Chat, the browsers attempt to connect with my webcam but fail and the browsers crash.

    I have Vista and a Creative Live Pro webcam. Laptop.

    Meanwhile, on my desktop, my MS webcam works fine…

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  2. [...] am fully aware that a lot of people in the tech industry think of email as rather antiquated. When Google announces that they have added video chat to GMail there is some shaking of heads around. But I seriously wonder why that [...]

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  3. Linux version not yet… :((
    Chrome not yet either…

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  4. [...] Sign up and embrace the goodness. Need to know how? Aliza Sherman over at Web Worker Daily has a great post about how to use [...]

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  5. Excellent, more and more full-service Gmail

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  6. Haven’t actually tried the video part but I’ve been happily using chat for ages now.

    Google just need to add voip to LAN / number porting / voicemail and they’ve got a truly killer app.

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  7. [...] 12th, 2008 (11:00am) Mike Gunderloy No Comments The addition of Gmail Voice and Video Chat to Google’s list of services brought back to mind a question I’ve been thinking about [...]

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  8. How do you record a conversation in Gmail chat?

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  9. [...] not tested out the record functionality yet but it looks like it is there… and the view yourself window if very flexible with sizing [...]

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  10. I tested this out with my co-workers. One of them got it going right away (i.e. his plugin was working). For my account it didn’t show up until a few hours later, but we were able to connect with each other. I was impressed that it worked through our firewall and was really impressed when I switched network locations and the video chat paused for 5-10 seconds, then continued working on the new network (I checked this using Wireshark).

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