Since the introduction of Gmail video chat back in 2008, many of you have told us that you love the direct, personal communication it provides. That's why we're excited to announce that video chat is being upgraded to a more modern video calling technology -- Google+ Hangouts.
Unlike the old video chat, which was based on peer-to-peer technology, Hangouts utilize the power of Google’s network to deliver higher reliability and enhanced quality. You’ll be able to chat with all the same people you did before and, in fact, with Hangouts you’ll now be able to reach them not only when they are using Gmail but also if they are on Google+ in the browser or on their Android or iOS devices.
All Gmail users will benefit from this upgrade, but if you and the person you're chatting with also use Google+, you’ll get even more from the Hangouts experience. You'll be able to video chat with up to nine people at once, watch YouTube videos together, collaborate on Google documents and share your screen. Plus, Hangouts has a bunch of fun effects that you can try out...because any conversation is better when you're wearing a virtual mustache or pirate hat.
We’ll be rolling out Hangouts in Gmail starting today and then gradually over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy hanging out with your friends and family. Arrrgh!