Google Debuts Google Talk Video Chat for Android Smartphones

Google is ramping up efforts to challenge Apple’s popular Facetime video chat functionality of the iPhone 4.

On Friday, the Internet search giant rolled out a new feature called “Google Talk,” a service optimized for Android devices.

With Google now invested in video chats, select Android smartphones can better compete with Apple’s dominant handset.

In your Google Talk friends list, a video or voice chat button will appear next to your contacts and you can simply touch the button to connect with them. Any text chats from the person you’re talking with will be overlaid on your phone’s screen so you can read them without having to leave the video. And, if you need to check something else, the video pauses automatically so you can go back to your phone’s home screen or another app. The audio will keep going even though the video has paused.

Users with an Android phone can engage in video chats with friends and family members on a compatible Android tablet or phone, or using Gmail with Google Talk on their PC.

According to Google, users can make calls over a 3G or 4G data network or over Wi-Fi.

Nexus S owners will be the first Android smartphone users to enjoy the video chat platform via the Android 2.3.4 update early next month.

Additional Android 2.3+ devices will also sport the feature in the coming months.