Google is adding the Google+ Hangout feature to Gmail, the company's popular cloud-based email service.
The Google+ Hangout feature, which allows users to video chat with up to nine people, replaces Gmail's older peer-to-peer video chat feature.
"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," said Fred Brewin, a Google+ product manager, in a blog post yesterday.
"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," Brewin added.
Google Monday began a gradual rollout of Hangouts for Gmail to users of the hosted email service, Brewin said.
The new service will also allow multiple Gmail users to view YouTube videos together, collaborate on Google documents and share their screen view, he added.
The addition of Hangouts to Gmail is part of Google's overall effort to integrate features of the Google+ social network into other Google products.
"Our ultimate ambition is to transform the overall Google experience, making it beautifully simple, almost automagical, because we understand what you want and can deliver it instantly," Page said at the time. "This means baking identity and sharing into all of our products so that we build a real relationship with our users. Sharing on the Web will be like sharing in real life across all your stuff."
Just weeks later, the company announced an integration of Google+ and the Google Apps cloud-based office suite.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
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