Google is about to challenge Apple in an entirely new way. And although some see Google "ripping off" Apple's popular iDevice Facetime video chat service, the last time I checked Apple didn't own the very concept of video chatting. So, as a result, we may see an entirely new challenge from Android devices to kill the runaway momentum of the iPhone 4 and perhaps the next-generation model.
On Friday, the Internet search giant introduced a new feature called "Google Talk," a service destined for Android devices. "In your Google Talk friends list," Google says, "a video or voice chat button will appear next to your contacts and you can simply touch the button to connect with them."
Any text chats from the person you’re talking with will be overlaid on your phone’s screen so you can read them without having to leave the video, Google notes. Speaking to the now cemented functionality of multitasking, Google is making it possible so that if you need to "check something else," the video pauses automatically so you can go back to your phone’s home screen or another app. Through it all, the audio feed will not be interrupted.
All told, users with an Android phone can engage in video chats with friends and family members on a compatible Android tablet or phone, or using Gmail with Google Talk on their PC. Incredibly, Google says users can make calls over a 3G or 4G data network or, as expected, over Wi-Fi.
To get things started, Google is giving Nexus S owners the service first. The video chat platform will arrive in the coming weeks via the Android 2.3.4 update. Additional Android 2.3+ devices will get the feature in the coming months, Google concluded. For more info, check out the official Google video above.