Google SMS text chat is back in Gmail after being knocked out for three weeks.
The experimental feature in the Gmail Chat menu, which lets users send text messages from their computers to their contacts' mobile phones, went out for users June 24 around 3 p.m. PDT and had been down for the count since.
I can't prove it, but evidence strongly suggests the outage was due to the roll-out of Google Voice to more invitees June 25, or just a day after SMS chat went down in Gmail.
Google only told me at the time: "We had to temporarily disable SMS for chat because it was causing issues for people who had it enabled and we are currently working on reinstating it."
But StareClips.com speculated after the SMS chat went out:
"It would make sense that they might be tying this functionality to the same functionality in Google Voice. Currently, using Google Voice, you can send SMS messages using the computer and receive them using the computer... so it is a redundant feature in a sense."
Jaxun summed up what I agree with: "I was thinking that maybe they shut down the gmail sms chat to reclaim all the phone numbers for new Voice users that might be coming on board."
What proof do I have that the SMS chat outage and the Google Voice roll-out are connected?
Only this. I just got my Google Voice invite tonight at 8:37 EDT, around the same time that I learned SMS chat had been turned back on.
Perhaps Gmail SMS chat was in fact disabled while the Google Voice team prepped its own SMS chat for thousands (millions, perhaps?) of people like me who were waiting in the wings for the invite?
Of course, maybe it's just a coincidence. In any case, hats off to Washii for the tip. I wouldn't have noticed the return of the tool because, well, I've been setting up my Google Voice account. Nice misdirection, Google.
Now if Google will only bring back the right-side labels, which it intentionally disabled.