How do I install Google Voice and Video Plug-In in Gmail?
I'm a Gmail fan and just learned that Google is going to implement "dial out" capability from right within Gmail [ed: see Call phones from Gmail on the Gmail blog]. Darn cool, but they said you need to install "Google Voice and Video Plug-In" and I'm hoping you can explain how to do just that?
This is a pretty neat feature that Google's adding, and what I most like about it is that I can side-step minute limitations on my cellphone by using the VIOP capabilities, and with a nice mic (like my little Snowflake from Blue Microphones) the voice quality is superior to a regular phone handset anyway. Oh, and conference calls? A total no brainer.
Still, there's a bit of setup required if you want to be able to video conference today and, tomorrow, when the new features are rolled out for Gmail users throughout the US, call any phone number, so let's have a look.
First off, I am presuming you already have a Google Mail / Gmail account. On that account, you have an area on the lower left where it shows the chat status of your friends (or just your own name, if you have it minimized as I have in the below screen capture):
I tend to keep everything closed if I'm not using it, so it's pretty important to know that the tiny "+" button expands your options. Click on it and suddenly some of your friends appear on the list...
More important is the little downward facing triangle, as highlighted above. Click on it and a bunch of preference options appear in a menu:
The last of them is the one we're interested in: "Add voice & video". If you don't have that, it's because you already have the Google Voice and Video Plug-In installed and you're done. See ya later. :-)
At this point check that your computer meets the listed criteria. If so, click on the big blue "install voice and video chat" button. Some software is downloaded and if you're on a Mac like me, you'll end up looking at an installable package:
On a PC / Linux system the process and result are both going to be different, as you'd expect. Either way, should be easy to proceed. On the Mac, I simply double-click on the package icon, as shown above.
Now that looks like some progress! A half-dozen "continue" and "yes" and "okay" clicks later, and the Google voice and video plug-in software is installed on the computer. Next step is to restart your Web browser: without that, Gmail won't know that you've installed the plug-in.
Once you do, though, there are more options associated with each Gmail contact you have. Notice here that with my friend Dave it now shows "Video & more":
When I choose that, there are a bunch of interesting options:
I'll invite Dave to a video chat, and within seconds a small window pops up letting me know the invitation was sent and allowing me to send him a text message or two while I'm waiting for his reply:
I'll spare you the video chat itself, but as you can see, the installation is straightforward and the capability smoothly integrated into Gmail. As for the voice dial out capabilities? I'm eager to have that enabled for my Gmail account so I can try it out. You'll definitely read more about it here on Ask Dave Taylor at that point!
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