After months of waiting, Google has finally rolled out a native video chat client for Android that should help the search engine giant compete against Apple’s FaceTime for iOS.
While Google’s version of “FaceTime” does look impressive (at least from their promo video), it may not take off due to one critical flaw.
Google Talk with video and voice chat will gradually roll out to Nexus S devices in the next few weeks as part of the Android 2.3.4 over-the-air update and will launch on other Android 2.3+ devices in the future. (Google Mobile Blog)
Due to the fact that wireless carriers (NOT Google) have absolute control over when Android devices receive OS updates, most Android fans will probably not see video chat in action via Google Talk anytime soon (assuming they will be able to use it at all).
Although Google loves embracing the latest and greatest version of Android, 90% of Android fans are still using version 2.2 and 2.1 (with 2.3+ registering only 2.5% of users).
Unless one has a Google phone, they will be unable to enjoy the benefits of Google Talk with video, forcing them to use third party services like Fring or Qik (who are compatible with Android 1.5 and 2.1, respectively).
While it’s great to see Google embrace a native video chatting service, they need to become more evil and force carriers to roll out updates faster as their fragmentation is preventing Android from competing against iOS (the latter who is currently winning in the mobile OS wars).