updated 09:20 pm EDT, Tue August 10, 2010
Google may chase FaceTime with Android video calls
Google today sent notice of a special event at its Mountain View campus on Thursday to unveil a "couple of cool new mobile features" that may bring video calling to Android. While the company has so far only said that mobile product lead Hugo Barra will lead the event, sources suggested Tuesday night that it may be video chat integrated with the mobile OS. A second option raised by AllThingsD may be a clone of Find My iPhone that would help Android owners track, lock down or wipe a lost handset.
A video chat feature would be a quick follow-up to Apple's FaceTime, which may have caught Google off-guard. The option is available on Android phones today, but only through third-party apps such as Fring and Qik that often have to tie either into an existing IM network or have their own proprietary systems. Without any integrated support, Android phone builders have rarely ever implemented front cameras as they wouldn't be useful.
An exception, HTC's Evo 4G, is a possible clue. Sprint's device became the first mainstream Android phone with the feature this spring and was given out for free to all developers that attended the Google I/O conference this past May. A step of the sort would ensure that thousands of Android developers could build video calls into their apps and test it with hardware they already own.