San Francisco – Google unveiled video and voice capabilities to its popular Gmail chat program Tuesday, making it a more worthy competitor to rival applications from Microsoft and Yahoo, which have boasted such features for years.
The new service requires users to download and install a plug-in and have their computer connected to a webcam. Google has teamed with camera maker Logitech to offer users healthy discounts on webcams, the companies said in a statement.
The application is available for computers running either Windows or Mac operating systems and works with all major browsers. Video chat has become vastly more popular since many laptops started coming with built-in webcams.
Gmail is currently the fourth-most popular webmail service in the United States, behind offerings from Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, according comScore Inc. But it is the fastest growing, registering a 39-per-cent increase in unique monthly visitors from September 2007 to September 2008. (dpa)