Yesterday Google announced that Gmail users can start both audio and video conversations from within the web-based mail interface. Naturally that got a lot of people excited because you don’t need to download any third-party program to get it running. You do, however, have to install a plugin on your computer though.
There’s something I thought was even more important that many other sites seem to have overlooked though. If you read the Gmail Blog they briefly mentioned something that really caught my attention. Did you see this sentence?
And in the spirit of open communications, we designed this feature using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP, and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat.
That’s right. You’ll be able to chat with your friends while reading through your emails, and quite possibly do the same thing using your favorite third-party messenger application. I was going to once again complain that Google Talk is lagging even further behind Gmail Chat, but the fact that the video and audio capabilities are available to third party programs kinda makes up for that. Hopefully Digsby and Pidgin will start taking advantage of that technology soon!
P.S. Google also worked with Buy.com and Logitech to bring you 4 (supposedly nice) webcams at 30% the regular price. This deal is available until November 30th, 2008.