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Google Talk brings native video chat to Android

Apr 29, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Google announced a version of Google Talk for Android that enables voice and video chat, appearing first on Samsung Nexus S phones that have been updated to Android 2.3.4. Also this week, Google released a Google Docs for Android app that lets users turn pictures with text into editable documents.

On April 28 Google announced its own video chat application for Android smartphones, giving the Google Talk IM and VoIP app the same voice and video chat capabilities it has long offered in the desktop version. Available on Android 2.3.4 phones, the feature enables video calls to be made over 3G or 4G cellular data networks or via Wi-Fi.


Google Talk for Android with video icons on buddy list (left) and video chat session

With the Google Talk for Android update, a video or voice chat button appears next to appropriate contacts, letting users quickly connect in a video chat session, says Google. Text chats and URLs can be overlaid on the screen so users don't need to exit the video. Google Talk can also pause a video chat automatically when a user switches to another app, but continue the audio connection.

The first to receive the update will be Samsung's "pure-Google" Nexus S (pictured), which will receive it over the next few weeks as part of the Android 2.3.4 over-the-air update. According to AndroidCentral, Nexus S users don't have to wait, but can manually install the update now. The site offers a link to the file, as well as instructions on how to activate the release, which appears to be primarily devoted to the new video chat feature.

Google Talk with video and voice chat will launch on other Android 2.3+ devices "in the future," according to Google.  According to Sprint — which this week announced that its Nexus S 4G (pictured at right) will launch May 8 — the feature will soon be available on that device.

The Nexus S 4G appears to be identical to the original Nexus S except for the addition of 4G WiMAX support. It retains the "pure-Google" focus of the Nexus S, lacking carrier-specific additions or UI layers, and is officially named the "Nexus S 4G from Google."

In an article on the Google Talk announcement in our sister publication eWEEK, Clint Boulton argues that the limited Android 2.3 release is not enough to meet the growing demand from Android users who have bought one of the many new smartphone models with front-facing video cameras.

"It's high time for Google to make video chat native for Google Talk," writes Boulton. "Diehard Google application users have grown tired of having to download Qik, Skype, or some other video chat app to their smartphones just to enjoy their handsets' dual cameras. At a time when Apple has its own signature Facetime video chat app, it's time for Google to do the same."

Google Talk for Android with video chat, demonstrated on YouTube
Source: Google
(Click to play)

Google Docs app for Android

On April 27 Google released a native Google Docs application for Android, enabling users to use optical character recognition (OCR) technology to turn photos with text into documents that can be edited from smartphones. As reported in another eWEEK story by Boulton, the Google Docs app for Android is available on Android Market with English-language phones running Android 2.1 and later.


Google Docs for Android update, showing ability to share editable items with contacts

The app lets users quickly create a new document from a photo, and also allows conversion of existing photos into Google Docs documents. They can convert text from PDF or JPEG, GIF and PNG image files to Google Docs, which extracts text and formatting from the scans for users to edit.

Google Docs for Android also lets users search and filter for content, then quickly edit the documents using online mobile editors. Users may also share edited items with phone contacts, and upload documents and then open them directly from Gmail, says Google.

Docs for Android comes several months after Google began allowing users to edit Google Docs from Apple iOS and Android devices.

Merchant reporting added to Android Market and Google buys TalkBin

In other Google-related Android coverage on eWEEK this week, Google added merchant sales reporting to Android Market. The service details device information, sale currency, and currency conversion rate for each application sale.

Google also acquired a company called TalkBin that makes software that lets consumers send feedback, suggestions, and questions to local businesses via Android smartphones and the iPhone.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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