Google April 28 finally rolled out its own video chat application for Android smartphones, fitting Google Talk with the same voice and video chat capabilities it leverages for the desktop version.
Now when users access their Google Talk friends list, a video or voice chat button will appear next to their contacts. Talk users will touch the button to connect with them. Text chats will be overlaid on the phone's screen for the users to read without exiting the video.
In one nifty feature, Google Talk video pauses automatically when a user switches to another application. That way, the users can switch to another application on the fly, though the audio will keep going even though the video action has paused.
Users may make calls over a 3G or 4G data network or over WiFi. However, there is a caveat: Except for Samsung Nexus S (and presumably Sprint's forthcoming Nexus S 4G handset), there's no telling when users will receive the Talk bump.
"Google Talk with video and voice chat will gradually roll out to Nexus S devices in the next few weeks as part of the Android 2.3.4 over-the-air update and will launch on other Android 2.3+ devices in the future," Google explained in a blog post, which also offers a screenshot and demo video.
That is, Talk with video chat is coming to smartphones employing the so-called "pure Google experience," which means they are the first to get OS and application updates without waiting for carriers or manufacturers to vet them. Google rolls them out over the air, and owners of those phones receive them.
Sprint explained this would be the case for its Nexus S 4G when it launches May 8.
Even though Google Talk with video and voice chat will be available on a limited basis-there just aren't many Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" phones in the U.S. market yet-it's high time for Google to make video chat native for Google Talk.
Diehard Google application users have grown tired of having to download Qik, Skype or some other video chat application to their smartphones just to enjoy their handsets' dual cameras. At a time when Apple has its own signature Facetime video chat application, it's time for Google to do the same.