Google Mobile event to be held Thursday, Android video calling to debut?

The Google Mobile team today sent out invites to a select number of media outlets inviting them to attend a special Google Mobile event at the company's San Francisco offices on Thursday.

The invite, which promises the “unveiling [of] a couple of cool new mobile features,” was sent out earlier this morning to select media outlets via email, and provides little information about what will be revealed on Thursday.

While it's unclear exactly what the Mobile team will announce at the meeting, All Things D writer Kara Swisher is speculating that Google mobile product management director Hugo Barra's demonstration to the media could include video calling support, which would rival Apple's entry into the world of video calling for the iPhone, FaceTime.

Native support for video calling is not yet present on Android devices -- although several applications can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace that support video conversations. So it's a plausible thought that Google is keen to add support for video calling as soon as possible to avoid losing ground to Apple, whose FaceTime voice calling application has seen rave reviews for it's simplicity and ease of use.

Swisher also throws out the possibility that Google could release it's own Android-based version of Apple's 'Find my iPhone' app which allows iPhone users to track their devices and wipe or display messages on the device if lost.

What do you think Google will unveil? Let us know in the comments.

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11 Comments

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And yours was too short.

I'm very surprised the announcement was so minor. I guess we'll have to sit it out for video calling.

I have a feeling it will be video calling, among other things. I think this will be a great feature for them to add to the solid base Android has become. I would certainly use it, on occasion.

To those who dismiss video calling, I believe it is certainly not a fad. Fads don't keep on kicking after years on the market. True, traditional video calling had a very poor response. But this isn't because nobody wants it. Lot's of people want it.

The networks killed any true usability of this feature through greed (until now). They paid big bucks for 3G licenses and they had banked on video calling rebalancing the books. It wasn't your fancy HTML5 mobile browsers or connected apps they had invisioned, it was a world where you paid per minute for access to the then basic sites and video calls.

After about 7 years in the mobile network industry I have seen video calling from it's birth. It's been a rough ride. As mentioned, at launch every handset manufacturer was throwing in front facing cameras, at the delight of the networks - they needed maximum penetration to recoup that cash. But two things stopped it from ever being a success; cost and quality. In the UK for example, even now you can expect to pay 15p/min to someone on the same network, or 50p/min to any other network... daylight robbery, for what is essentially just stuff over IP (and a lot of people now have unlimited stuff over IP), yet you are still expected to pay for it as an additional service. Then there's quality, the hardware just wasn't where it needed to be (both handset and network side) - you were getting pixelated, laggy discoloured feeds about as pleasing as an animated gif for your 50p/min. No thanks.

The dot com bubble burst because the world realised that pay per minute was never going to be a success. Early adopters might pay per minute, but everyone else wants a flat rate package. To this day the networks cling to this hope, even if it means the technology dies. And let's face it, they would rather it die than to have to provide all that extra bandwidth when you find yet another use for your unlimited package.

A lot of people fail to see the big picture. The whole world isn't the same as them. People who post on sites like Neowin are just a tiny slice of the pie. I'm sorry if it hurts your ego but the market is much bigger than you, and manufacturers aren't designing their products based on what tech geeks wants - they want to sell to as many people as possible.

Granted, video calls will never replace voice calls, but there are so many practical uses that it is definitely just going to grow and grow. If there's anything that this social networking phenomenon has taught us it's that people crave attention, and video calling without any real tangeable cost is going to allow people to broadcast themselves to the world, in real time, as and when they please, for any purpose they please. Universal video calling is a step towards the Josh Harris vision becoming a reality, we're getting closer every day.

I'm a believer.

OK! said,
I have a feeling it will be video calling, among other things. I think this will be a great feature for them to add to the solid base Android has become. I would certainly use it, on occasion.

To those who dismiss video calling, I believe it is certainly not a fad. Fads don't keep on kicking after years on the market. True, traditional video calling had a very poor response. But this isn't because nobody wants it. Lot's of people want it.

The networks killed any true usability of this feature through greed (until now). They paid big bucks for 3G licenses and they had banked on video calling rebalancing the books. It wasn't your fancy HTML5 mobile browsers or connected apps they had invisioned, it was a world where you paid per minute for access to the then basic sites and video calls.

After about 7 years in the mobile network industry I have seen video calling from it's birth. It's been a rough ride. As mentioned, at launch every handset manufacturer was throwing in front facing cameras, at the delight of the networks - they needed maximum penetration to recoup that cash. But two things stopped it from ever being a success; cost and quality. In the UK for example, even now you can expect to pay 15p/min to someone on the same network, or 50p/min to any other network... daylight robbery, for what is essentially just stuff over IP (and a lot of people now have unlimited stuff over IP), yet you are still expected to pay for it as an additional service. Then there's quality, the hardware just wasn't where it needed to be (both handset and network side) - you were getting pixelated, laggy discoloured feeds about as pleasing as an animated gif for your 50p/min. No thanks.

The dot com bubble burst because the world realised that pay per minute was never going to be a success. Early adopters might pay per minute, but everyone else wants a flat rate package. To this day the networks cling to this hope, even if it means the technology dies. And let's face it, they would rather it die than to have to provide all that extra bandwidth when you find yet another use for your unlimited package.

A lot of people fail to see the big picture. The whole world isn't the same as them. People who post on sites like Neowin are just a tiny slice of the pie. I'm sorry if it hurts your ego but the market is much bigger than you, and manufacturers aren't designing their products based on what tech geeks wants - they want to sell to as many people as possible.

Granted, video calls will never replace voice calls, but there are so many practical uses that it is definitely just going to grow and grow. If there's anything that this social networking phenomenon has taught us it's that people crave attention, and video calling without any real tangeable cost is going to allow people to broadcast themselves to the world, in real time, as and when they please, for any purpose they please. Universal video calling is a step towards the Josh Harris vision becoming a reality, we're getting closer every day.

I'm a believer.


That post was too long.

Google is keen to add support for video calling as soon as possible to avoid losing ground to Apple, whose FaceTime voice calling application has seen rave reviews for it's simplicity and ease of use.

FaceTime and rave reviews certainly should not be included in the same sentence. Its old technology and has been around since the first 3G handsets became available, its only available over a Wi-Fi connection which is not always readily available.

I loved the press conference where they talked about watching star trek and dreaming that video calling would be reality. Its been a reality since 2006, and not heavily used on mobile devices.

No doubt Android will do it better, faster, easier and more importantly over 3G

Mr. Spontaneous said,
I'm hoping they'll launch the cloud services that they showed off at I/O.

Ditto, hopefully streaming and/or app installation.
Whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be awesome. Can't wait

I don't see what the deal is with video calls, they've been around since 3G first came out (notice the complete lack of support? because nobody ever used it...) and quite frankly it's a pretty useless feature, especially considering the vast majority of phones lack a front-facing camera.

M2Ys4U said,
I don't see what the deal is with video calls, they've been around since 3G first came out (notice the complete lack of support? because nobody ever used it...) and quite frankly it's a pretty useless feature, especially considering the vast majority of phones lack a front-facing camera.

Not that I don't agree with you, but no very few phones had the "All screen" form factor before the iPhone...You never know, I hate iPhone but this could be the beggining of a new trend (every phone coming out with a front facing camera)

Durkbeef said,

Not that I don't agree with you, but no very few phones had the "All screen" form factor before the iPhone...You never know, I hate iPhone but this could be the beggining of a new trend (every phone coming out with a front facing camera)

Well not really, when 3G first came out pretty much 90%+ of all phones did have a front facing camera (with them all thinking video calling was the next big "thing") but it never caught on and phone manufacturers started removing the front facing camera from their phones. To be honest I don't think having "all screen" phones is really going to save video calling, sure it gives you a bigger picture but it still (for me) fundamentally flawed, part of what makes a mobile phone great is that it's well....mobile! to make a video call you basically need to stop to make the call and stay stationary till the call is over, hardly convenient to me. If people can find a use for it more power to them, but for me voice calling is still where it's at and video calling is just a fad that won't die. That is my opinion take with a grain of salt.

Xerxes said,
Well not really, when 3G first came out pretty much 90%+ of all phones did have a front facing camera (with them all thinking video calling was the next big "thing") but it never caught on and phone manufacturers started removing the front facing camera from their phones.

Apple has done it again! They have "Invented" video calling in the eyes of most people!