Google on Tuesday upgraded its free Web-based email service by adding online video and voice chat as well as automatic translation of RSS feeds people commonly use to stay updated on blogs and news.
All you need is a webcam and a web browser plugin, and you can start video chatting with your friends, family, and coworkers on Gmail and Google Apps. Gmail voice and video chat lets you start a video chat without switching to another application or signing up for another account. And if you don't have a webcam, you can simply chat by voice. The software plugin is available online at gmail.com/videochat.
To get started, open a Gmail chat window, click on the "Options" menu at the bottom, and choose "Add voice/video chat," which will walk you through a one-time installation of a free plugin (a 2 MB download). When you re-open Gmail you'll notice your "Options" link in your chat window has changed to "Video & more". Open this menu and click "Start video chat" to see and hear your partner in high-quality video. You can pop out the video and change its size and position, or switch to full screen.
To use voice and video chat, your PC must have Windows XP or a more recent version, or an Intel-Based Mac with Mac OS X v10.4 or later. It works in browsers that support the latest version of Gmail (Google Chrome, Firefox 2.0+, Internet Explorer 7.0, and Safari 3.0).
Google also modified Google Reader, a popular tool for setting up Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds from favorite websites, to feature automatic translation of content into users' chosen languages.
An RSS feed can be set up using Google Reader, for example, to pull articles from a Turkish blog or website, and the content can be automatically translated into English or any of the other nearly 20 languages available.
The translations are done by machine using the Google Translate program.