Video came to the Android star

One of the most bizarre aspects of the iPhone 4 launch last year was Apple's claim to have 'invented' video calling. Their FaceTime product works well, but it ignores not only the fact that most smartphones have video-enabled Skype, but that in Europe we've had video-calling since 3G was introduced years ago - albeit no-one uses it.

Still, the launch of FaceTime and the fuss that it generated alerted other phone players to the fact that video calling was finally becoming something normal people wanted to do. So when Google put together their Honeycomb version of Android, they were sure to build in video calling over Google's existing Google Talk platform. That's superior to FaceTime in the sense that you can theoretically call anyone with a Gmail account.

But Gingerbread, the latest version of Android for phones, as opposed to tablets, came out before the feature was ready. But now Google say their phone customers are going to get some love. The next update of Android for phones, 2.3.4, will enable video Google Talk, they've just announced. And unlike FaceTime, it'll work over 3G as well as wi-fi, though 3G quality will vary.

This is great news for almost everyone, the exception being Skype, who have been hoping to become the main player in mobile video calling. That could still happen, as it's the only service which both iPhone and Android users share. But competition is good, so we hope that phone manufacturers will get this latest Android update out to their customers soon. If you're a Nexus S owner, you'll be first.

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