InformationWeek reports on google’s new voice and video chat. Since I gotta check all all the new video tech, I dove right in. Hmm… who do I know who uses a gmail account who will be logged in right now?

So, I open gmail to check out my contacts, of which I have none. But, lo and behold, I can use my AOL buddy list. I sign in and ping my friend (name omitted to protect the innocent):

ultrasaurus03 (6:52:12 PM): yt?
friend (6:53:48 PM): Yes.
friend (6:53:51 PM): Youre’ okay with this?
friend (6:53:53 PM): “Your IM conversation with ultrasaurus03 will be saved in ultrasaurus03’s IM history in Gmail from now on. Learn more at http://x.aim.com/gmail.”

OK, kindly big brother google is now tracking my every thought. Not an issue for this experiment, but duly noted.

Friend agrees to participate in my random technology experience. I tell him to hang on and I choose the video option. Ack! now I need to install…

Good thing I’m running Windows XP. It actually takes more than a few seconds to install…

maybe a minute or so…

but then I need to restart my browser.

Whew! I’m back. I login to gmail… and …

oh, gee. Not only do I need to have XP, but my friend does too. Time to find another friend.

Ok, now I’ve pinged another friend (via AIM) who has XP. He signs up for a gmail account. We add each other to our buddy lists. Then he installs the software. Whew.

Now we’re ready to chat… after one weird interaction (or lack thereof):

We’re actually communicating:

It’s a bit weird that it doesn’t seem to know he doesn’t have a camera — I really don’t need a large blank box on my screen while we have an audio conversation, but the quality of the audio is really quite good. I’m using the sucky built-in mic on my laptop but it doesn’t seem to be an issue like it is on some systems.

The official Google blog says “Gmail voice and video chat will be rolled out globally over the next day or so for Macs and PCs” — that was 3 days ago and no Mac version yet, but it is good to hear it is coming.

Interesting that Google chose to use audio-video technology from Vidyo rather than the ubiquitous Flash video. I would guess the decision not to use Flash stemmed from the superior audio conversation experience, since they did go with Flash video for the Google video site.

What do you think?