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RPT-Google adds video and voice chat to Gmail

(Repeating to widen distribution)

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Google Inc GOOG.O added a voice and video chat feature to its Gmail email service on Tuesday, launching a free Web-based service that competes with the likes of eBay's EBAY.O Skype.

Gmail and Google App subscribers can now choose to speak with friends on a video screen and simultaneously instant message them in a Google Chat box.

The video screen can be popped out of the chat box and moved around a user’s computer screen. Users can also change the size of the screen and expand it to full-screen size.

“The idea was to make it quicker and easier to communicate with other people by whatever means is best convenient,” said Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds.

“It’s a nice alternative for businesses looking for another way for people to connect,” he added.

The feature is available for both PC and Apple computer users.

A webcam and small web browser plug-in are required to use the video chat. Users who do not have a webcam will still be able to chat with friends by voice. (Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Brian Moss)

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