SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc 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 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