Although early rumors claimed that Google might bring video calling to their Android smart phones at the upcoming I/O 2011 Conference, things took a turn this afternoon when the company choose release an update with the feature ahead of schedule. The new Google Talk app, which only supported text-based chatting, now offers voice and video chat for Android smart phones.
Video calling has long been a part of Google Talk for a long time and is available to any Gmail user with the addition of a browser plugin. When Android 3.0 Honeycomb made a debut on the Motorola Xoom earlier this year, it also had support for this feature. According to Google, the app will allow both voice and video calls over 3G, 4G, or WiFi. However, a disclaimer states that cellular carriers might have the option to place restrictions on use when on their network.
While this news is exciting being an official solution, there is one major downside. It only works on Nexus S devices, which will get an update to Android 2.3.4 over the next few weeks. The press release also mentions that other Android 2.3+ Gingerbread device will get support in the future, but Google provides no time frame. Although Apple restricts users to WiFi networks for FaceTime calls, their solution at least works across all their entire product line including the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
I am hoping to hear better news regarding this at I/O 2011 next month, but the current state of things means having stick to third-party solutions. For instance, check out Qik Video Plus which offers cross-platform calling between iOS and Android devices. I also provided a break down of the pros and cons of the many mobile video calling services earlier this month for those interested.
Links: Google Mobile Blog