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Google intros video chat on Android

Face time over cellular

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Brace yourself for a new round of 3G service bill-shock horror stories: Google has announced Android support for video chat and voice chat using Google Talk.

The new capability means Android phone users can voice or video chat with other Android phone users, or with people using Google Talk on their PCs. Chats are supported over 3G and 4G networks as well as WiFi.

Google says the features will be rolled out to Nexus S devices in updates coming over the next few weeks as part of Android 2.3.4. Other Android devices will receive the feature in the future, but the rollout schedule hasn’t yet been detailed.

Google’s announcement catches up with Apple’s launch of FaceTime for the iPhone last year. The Android calling capability is integrated with Gmail, and whereas FaceTime is a WiFi-only app, Google Talk’s video chat works over cellular networks as well. Its support for in-conversation text chats is another differentiator between Google Talk and FaceTime.

The native Android chat app can also maintain a chat even if the video is interrupted. For example, if someone follows a link during a chat, audio will continue while video is interrupted. ®

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