In a world increasingly obsessed with convergence perhaps this should be no shock at all...?
Without so much as a hint beforehand (a la Google Chrome), the search giant has quietly added voice and video chat into uber-popular Gmail, in effect putting the email service on a par with VoIP services like Skype plus Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo IMs.
"Today we're launching voice and video chat -- right inside Gmail," announced the Google Official Blog. "We've tried to make this an easy-to-use, seamless experience, with high-quality audio and video -- all for free. All you have to do is download and install the voice and video plugin and we take care of the rest. And in the spirit of open communications, we designed this feature using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP, and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat."
Once installed all users need to do is click on the new 'Video & more' menu at the bottom of a Gmail chat window and select "Start video chat". Video windows can be resized, popped-out and even viewed full screen. This being Google, the service is completely free but also requires both parties to be Gmail and Gchat users.
Google World Domination Update: full steam ahead.