Google has integrated Hangouts with Gmail for video chats. Hangouts was first introduced with Google+ last year and enables users to participate in multi-party video chats. Google claims Hangouts is better than mature video chat services like Microsoft’s Skype as it piggybacks on Google’s network to deliver higher reliability and quality, unlike Skype which still uses peer-to-peer technology.
So with the addition of this feature, users will be able to ‘Hangout’ from Google+, Gmail via the browser or via Android and iOS apps. Users can conduct video chats with nine people simultaneously and the service is smart enough to display the video from the user who’s talking at any given time. Apart from chatting, users can watch YouTube videos with each other, collaborate on Google documents and share their screen
The addition of this feature comes at a critical time for Google as Microsoft is increasingly challenging it. Only yesterday, Microsoft launched a rebranded version of its Hotmail email service as Outlook.com. This new revamp for Microsoft did not only add a new Metro interface, but also synergy with Microsoft’s online products line like Office 365, Skydrive and Skype.