Google replaces Gmail video chat with Google+ Hangouts

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 30, 2012
Updated • Jul 30, 2012
Email, Gmail, Google, Video

It is becoming apparent that Google is pushing its Google+ networking service with all of its might into the market. I'm not saying that Google+ is a bad service, or that it is weaker or less usable than other social networking services, but if it would have been created by a startup and not Google, it would be nowhere near its current traffic levels.

Google back in 2008 introduced video chat capabilities to its email service Gmail. It allowed Gmail users to quickly initiate video chats with other users of the service which sometimes worked better than having to send multiple emails back and forth. In many respects, it is a similar feature to Facebook's Skype integration, even though that happened later.

gmail hangout video chat

Probably the biggest issue with video chat until now was that it was only available on Gmail and based on peer to peer technology. Today Google announced that it is replacing Gmail video chat with the Hangout feature of Google+. This has several advantages on paper:

  • Video chats are now also available on Google+ in compatible web browsers, and on Android and iOS devices, next to being integrated into Google Mail directly.
  • If both chat participants use Google+, the full Hangout experience becomes available which means that the chat participants count increases to nine, and that features such as screen sharing, document collaboration or video watching become available as well.

Google notes that it will roll out Hangouts for Gmail from today on, and that all Gmail users should be able to use the service in the coming weeks. A short demonstration video has been created by Google to promote Gmail Hangouts and the new features that it introduces.

You can read the official announcement over at the official Gmail blog. What's your take on the change?


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  1. katherine said on September 14, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Guys r jerks just got my heart riped out

  2. Adam said on August 29, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I want to remove the Hangout icon from my chat sidebar in Gmail. Before its addition, the “Custom message” text box was right under my icon; now, I have to click the arrow to set my custom message. Having that back would be much more helpful than the “Search people” text box.

    I don’t have the voice and video chat plugin installed, so I don’t see any way to get rid of Hangout.

  3. Sarah S. said on August 24, 2012 at 5:42 am

    My boyfriend and I have been using the video chat feature in gmail for long distance and have been very disappointed with the switch to the hangout. It takes longer to connect and you have to go through more steps to just chat with one person. We also often run into the problems of Google saying that one of us is not available. We’re going to start using Skype instead

  4. Andy T said on August 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I just tried my first v-chat since the change, and ran into errors (that is, are we SURE you don’t have to have google+ to even do 1-on-1?). Even though my friend clicked to join, on my side it said she was not available. She downloaded the plug-in for video-chatting multiple times, but it made no difference (it didn’t even change her dot to a camera (it had randomly changed back to a dot a few weeks ago, and we still don’t know why)). So we went back to skype – thanks google.

  5. Gregg DesElms said on July 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Martin wrote: “…but if it would have been created by a startup and not Google, it would be nowhere near its current traffic levels.”

    My response: Indeed! Dead-on. Exactly. Good observation.

    As for the change in video chat: It’s probably a good thing.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  6. KoalaBear said on July 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Great change. Now we don’t need the Google Talk video plugin anymore.

  7. Uhtred said on July 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    It looks like it works well on the video, but I imagine that the hangout of googlers were on higher end systems with good lines… anyone have any idea of its use of resources?

  8. Peter (NL) said on July 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Koekel has often nice funny videos about a new service, but it does not say so much to an user. For this new hangout service inside Gmail : does the user need to have a Google+ account ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      The way I understand it is that you do not need an account for 1on1 chats, but if you want to use the extra features, then you need one. I could be wrong though but can’t try it right now as it is not available for my account yet.

  9. Morely Dotes said on July 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    “Probably the biggest issue with video chat until now was that it was only available on Gmail …”

    That’s incorrect. I use it in Google’s Gtalk chat several times a week. See for the Windows stuff; I usually use it on Android.

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