Google just quietly announced a new feature for Android handsets running Android 2.3.4 which, for those keeping score, is essentially limited to the Nexus S at the moment. This point-of-a-point release brought about the very minor feature of voice and video chat integrated into Google’s primary chat app, Google Talk. Capable of running over 3G, 4G, or WiFi, any phone with the freshest of the gingerbreads can now use the myriad of front-facing video cameras for a real, first-party video chat solution for once. It also works cross-platform, meaning you can chat with any of the folks using voice or video chat on their desktop or tablet computers as well as phones. It’s basically the holy grail of video chat.
At least, that’s what the story is. Except, the collective gadget blogs seem to have missed one thing. This update also allows voice chat. The implication of that being that, if you have an Android phone, and your friends have Android phones, then as far as you folks are concerned, that mythical age where voice, text, and data are all treated merely as data is no longer the future. It’s here.
Sure, it will be shoddy at first. I imagine the voice quality will be a bit subpar. To say nothing of the fact that only a select few handsets will even have this capability starting out. Flash forward to two years from now, however, and a large number of smartphones will be running on vibrant, thriving 4G networks, nearly every Android handset will have these capabilities and, with a little luck, the carriers that have data caps will have raised the highest caps a little bit as people begin to use tons more data. In those days, voice chat may just be no different than placing a phone call. Only you won’t be charged by the minute.
Here’s hoping a carrier or two still holds on to unlimited data plans (I’m looking at you, Sprint). Nirvana* is coming, folks.
* I’d make a joke about the band Nirvana but….I don’t want to date myself.
Source: Google Mobile Blog