Google Rolls out Gmail Voice and Video Chat…Slowly…


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?



I installed gmail voice and it worked for 2 days and then things started happening like webpages would not open, etc. It was like a conflict. I had to remove from my computer. Really hated to do that because it was cool………hope Google gets it down pat.

Steve in Brooklyn

Installed today (12-30-08) on my work PC, and 2 home PCs running a combination of XP and Vista with a logitech Pro 9000 quickcam. Works flawlessly on all 3. Then I tried to walk my sister and father through the process and they each could not get the add-on or plug-in to work. Could it be the lag mentioned in point 1? I hope so. Otherwise, i don’t know what the problem could be.


I have tried video chat. I have camera icon beside my name. Also the person I am trying to video chat with has camera icon beside her name. We open video chat. I see my camera but only her picture. She sees her video but only my picture also. Neither of us can view each others camera. Shortly after I received era message and it disappears. I have researched trouble shooting and have yet to find a solution. If anyone knows, please email me.

Bushan lal Kaul

The vedio/voice system downloaded/installed on my window vista computer could not be traced for functioning/chating with my friend who directed to do this for clear talk/better viewing while chating on Google,please advise what to do now & how to find it.


Google Talk Plugin encountered an internal error, and must now colse. Report this error to Google?
Error is occurring in my computer and firend’s.
How to slove this error ? Please tell me ….


When I am chatting with my friend, at some random point her video will
freeze and I can no longer hear her. I have a microphone but no
webcam, so it is 1 way video chat.the same thing will happen in the
middle of voice chat. The weird thing is that she can always still
hear me. She is on a Mac and I am on a Windows machine running XP with

Who’s end is the problem on and how do I fix it?


I’ve been trying to get GMail video chat to run on three computers over the past 3 days without luck. Everything appears to install correctly. I make a video call and as soon as the other party answers, the browser crashes with an error message saying the plugin has encountered an internal error and needs to close. The same thing happens if I’m try to answer an incoming video call. Also, sometimes a picture appears with green bars on it, but usually it just crashes the browser.


Installed new GMail video chat on PC and it works great. My laptop and PC both run XP, IE, AVG, and both use Logtitech cam. My laptop (ACER) downloads new Gmail chat software, installs it, requests browser reboot. I sign back into Gmail and it does recognize new software. Just like i never installed it. Ideas ?

Charles Cutajar

Have tried for three days to download voice and Video Chat with no succes in sight, now I’m convinced could not download software until such time they iron all bugs out,looks to me others are having the similar problems, meantime I stick to what I had for some time MSN messenger.

Regards Charles


i have a mac and my friend has a pc. we cannot use the video chat from some reason.

Leah Sherman

I think Google Video is GREAT! Just tried it this morning and loved it so much I emailed friends and family to join. I already used Google chat, so vid seems like an easy transition.


otherwise it really seems awesome…we have been actively researching how to do multi-person chats with pc’s and mac’s to capture and load on web. We have: ichat, oovoo, gmail, skype and gmail is the only one that seems to compete with ichat for quality both sound and video and options of visual output.

Does anyone know if you can: screen share, play a power point, and record …like i asked in last post


How do you record the Gmail chat…do you need to load a screen capture software or is it already recording and i am missing how to retrieve…i’m on a mac book pro

Thank you!

Joe Campbell

Crashes both Firefox and IE for me too as soon as video tries to load. I have the same issue when I try to see those adorable puppies on too. There’s something with streaming Flash video and some webcams that I can’t figure out.


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).

Sheridan Flynn

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.


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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