The Google graveyard is getting fuller by the day. The tech giant has been on a bit of a killing spree recently, axing what it sees as unnecessary products (like iGoogle and Google Video) during its spring cleaning process. Add its increased focus on social networking to the mix, and its latest move won’t seem like much of a surprise: Google is replacing video chat in Gmail with Google+ Hangouts.
Ok, so it’s not so much a murder as it is an update, as Google continues to make its products more and more intertwined. When the gradual rollout of the new feature comes your way, you will be able to start a hangout right from Gmail. In an official blog post, the company said that the new feature would allow Gmail users to run hangouts not only with other Gmail users, but also people using Google+. For example, you will be able to use Gmail to start a hangout with someone using Google+ in a desktop browser or using the app on their Android or iOS device.
Some features are reserved for Google+ users though — for example, hangouts offer the ability to video call up to 10 contacts… but only if you and the people you’re calling have Google+ accounts. You can also watch YouTube videos together, collaborate on Google docs and share your screen if you’re all Google+ users…. and apply all sorts of weird video effects like pirate hats, crowns and moustaches. So if you want to wear a clown mask while talking to your friends, you’ll have to join (and/or actually use) Google’s social network.