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Google Brings Video Chat to Android Devices

After nearly 16 months, my Google Nexus One (s goog), is finally out-of-date. That’s by far a record for me keeping one single phone but it’s time for an upgrade, because Google just announced video chat capabilities in Android 2.3.4, which is now rolling out to Nexus S handsets and will follow on other devices later. I’ve been getting by with just a single-core CPU and the 800×480 display of the Nexus One, but without a front-facing video camera, there’s no video chat in sight for me.

Google says the video chat feature works with Google Talk and can be used on either Wi-Fi or mobile broadband networks if your phone carrier allows it. Just like the video calling feature in the desktop version of Google Talk, a camera icon appears next to online contacts who can video chat. Tap the camera, and the video call begins. The only downside I can think of is that folks with multiple Google Talk accounts will be frustrated, as Android devices support only a single account for Google Talk.

I have to wonder if competing video chat services got wind of this development before it happened, because there’s been a recent flurry of mobile video communications activity. Last month, Vtok delivered a video chat product to iOS devices (s aapl) that leverages Google Talk and said it intends to target Android next. Fring recently delivered four-way video chat between iOS and Android, and Qik just launched its cross-platform video calling software this week too.

7 Responses to “Google Brings Video Chat to Android Devices”

  1. This is a great development though the real breakthrough would happen only when GV gets support on all remaining platforms as well and not just Android. It is rather frustrating if you are restricted to do VC with fellow android users only.

  2. As soon as someone writes an iOS app which supports this and runs over 3G it could cause some serious competition for FaceTime on iOS devices (I know there’s other apps that can do iOS > Android but every Android device will have this Google implementation by default very soon which is why its likely to take off)

  3. Just a point of clarification on your statement that “Android devices only support a single account for Google Talk.” Google Talk on Honeycomb supports multiple accounts. I’m not 100% sure about multiple Gmail accounts, as I only use one; however, I am able to use my Google Apps account in addition to my Gmail account on my Xoom.

  4. Hey Kevin we talked about it on several threads here. It was in the air.
    They win here. Not only a leading IM but also a connection to the desktop.
    Good for Google and even better good for us.
    Now they should just open GV internationally, and they have a chessmate to Skype and the rest.
    Seriously they will always lack some features (e.g. multi video chat or multi accounts as you put it). But the core features are gold. Pure gold. And lacking probably one or two core features is what set them apart from world domination ;)

    • Too funny, Tal, because you’re right: we were just kicking this topic around as a potential missed opportunity for Google. ;) It’s bittersweet for me though: I’m glad to see it arrive and I expect I’ll get it on my Galaxy Tab through an .apk or other hack. But it’s definitely the end of the line for my Nexus One since there’s no front facing camera. *sigh* I definitely got my money’s worth out of that handset, even after paying full price to be contract free. :)

      • You of all people should see it as your legitimate justified and well deserved next Android opportunity :)
        I am dreaming on a 5″ wifi and 3G device (/can keep dreaming) which will serve me with Data only plan.
        BTW, as not having Google Voice (living in greater Toronto), I have no freaking idea if it is integrated with Gtalk. If not – I would suggest that youngster product manager from the video to strongly consider it. While they are finally adding Canada to GV naturally. Maybe someone at Google is reading us here … /spooky!

  5. I can tell you from experience, you’re only seeing the flurry of activity now on mobile audio/video comms b/c engineers finally figured out how to get around some fundamental Android OS problems. Android really sucks for low latency, and to compound it, every device is completely different under the hood. Different drivers, chipsets, hardware, etc.
    It’s nice that Google is finally getting around to fixing these issues. You’ll definitely see quite a few more options for Voice/Video over IP apps on Android b/c of it.