Despite having the infrastructure for video chat since 2008 (at a time when android was in its infancy) google never really capitalised on this advantage by introducing video chat in smartphones before anyone else. They didn’t even bother to update their desktop client to include video chat. I hate having to open up gmail to use all the new features like group chat, video calling which Google chose to not include in its desktop counterpart.
This seemed to be changing when google announced honeycomb, it had inbuilt video chat with google talk. It seemed obvious that video chat would be making its way to phones in the next release of android, but that didn’t happen although some evidences were found in the Android 2.3 SDK. Instead google took time, and has apparently chosen to introduce video calling at Google IO 2011. This tweet from a samsung employee indicates that google will introduce video chat for gingerbread phones at google IO in May
I feel google really missed a chance to get the early advantage with Video chat on phones. Right now except for honeycomb tablets no other portable devices have google video chat, not even through a third party application. Compare this with apple, who didn’t even have any video calling experience prior to facetime, and right now they have the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and of course the Snow Leopard laptops and PCs which are FaceTime compatible. Other video chat services like Yahoo, Skype, Tango etc. also have a large presence in the mobile world with most of them having apps for multiple platforms.
I hope Larry Page, the newly appointed CEO will change all of this and will encourage better and faster integration among different google products.
This update will fix a number of bugs in addition to bringing in video chat. So all you folks with android phones out there, just pray that your manufacturer/carrier/google chooses to roll out this update for your device (most likely nexus S users will be the first one to receive this update).