Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gmail Innovates. Y! and MS Makes Cutesy UI's.

You can now talk to your Gmail buddies, a la the Google Talk desktop client.

You can even view their webcams while you talk.

Gmail rocks. I'm not even gonna talk about the many cool experimental features in Gmail Labs. As far as webmail goes, Google is king. Yahoo and Microsoft can shove their drag and drop Outlook-wannabes up their asses.

/end demented fanboyism

Update:

I just couldn't wait, so I went and grabbed the Gmail Video chat plugin:
http://www.gmail.com/videochat

/start shallow analysis

Let's talk pros and cons. First, it's good that you can do voice chats between Gmail and Google Talk, but this capability is somewhat hidden: when you hover on a contact (in the Chat panel) who is running Google Talk but not Gmail, then you click on "Video & more", there is no option to initiate voice chat. Instead, you'll have to start a normal chat session first, then click "Video & more" on the contact's chat "window", before you could find the "Start voice chat" option.

Nonetheless, voice chat w/ Google Talk buddies went well when I tried it. Audio is clear and the ring tone isn't irritating. I was on a Windows XP system, and I used both Firefox and Google Chrome (I'll let others test the less relevant browsers. Kidding! :P). I still need to test this with a web cam, though. Maybe I'll post a follow-up this weekend.

Other issues:

  • There is no ability to send voicemail from Gmail, yet (you can already do this in the Google Talk desktop client).
  • The new chat features are enabled via a plugin, so obviously compatibility is a problem. For now, Gmail Video chat only works on Windows XP or later.
  • Video chat is not yet available in iGoogle. I'm hoping the iGoogle team will use the same plugin if ever they decide to include Video chat in their Google Talk gadget. Wouldn't want to download multiple plugins for this on my slow work PC.
Update: According to Philipp Lenssen, there might actually be a Mac plugin, already. Still none for Linux. Oh well.