Whatever sorts of microphones and webcams the average Gmail user has attached to his (or her) computer may soon start getting a lot more use. Yesterday evening, Google made the video chat, voice chat, and group chat features much more prominent.
A post on the Official Gmail Blog explained, "Video chat, voice chat, and group chat have all been available for some time within Gmail, but they’ve been curiously tucked away. Getting them up and running required fidgeting with a little menu at the bottom of each chat window. Starting today, all of these features will be just a single click away."
More advanced options like "Go off the record," "Block," and "Send SMS" are then available via the easy-to-see "Actions" menu.
Plus, if one user wants to interact with another who doesn’t yet have the video and voice chat plugin installed, there’s a little icon the first user can click to send an invitation.
This update could turn out to be a good way for Google to make up ground in the "social" sphere, considering that it’ll get people to spend more time using Gmail and arguably takes aim at Facebook Chat. It also happens to stem from some similar improvements made on Orkut not too long ago.