Google Video Chat

The whole point of having a front facing camera on the Xoom is to enable two-way video chat. Given that Android is a Google production, the video conferencing platform of choice is obviously Google Video Chat. Integrated into Gmail, Google Video Chat already works on all PCs and Macs with a webcam. In Honeycomb, video chat is available via the Talk app.

Just like in the browser version of Gmail, any contacts that can send audio and/or video will have the corresponding icon next to their user name. Tap the contact then tap the action item to initiate a video chat, or hit accept on any incoming video chat requests and you’re set.

Video chat takes place full screen although you can still multitask while it’s going on (your video feed will just pause while you’re off doing other stuff, audio will still transmit and you’ll still be able to hear the other party - they just won’t be able to see you).

While you lose the ability to type to the receiving party, anything they send to you will appear over the video window like so:

Incoming messages from other parties appear in the lower right as standard notifications.

You can switch between front and rear facing cameras using a toggle on the screen:

There’s also a slider to enable live image stabilization on the transmission side. In practice it works well at light settings but at full blast it can significantly distort the transmitting video.

Functionally the only problem I had with video conferencing on the Xoom is that the volume slider is non-linear. Speaker volume was a bit too high at 100%, however at the next step below 100% it was far too quiet. Note that this is the only part of Honeycomb where the volume control works like this, it works fine everywhere else.

The chat app does let you set mic and speaker volumes independently, which is a nice addition. In testing I found that setting both to 100% was the best to use in my office.

Video chat works over both WiFi and 3G, however there’s no difference in compression level or quality between the two interfaces from what I can tell. Video quality isn’t that great but it does get the job done. The front facing camera on the Xoom isn’t very impressive and you’ll want to be lit as well as possible. The video is compressed to under 400Kbps (I measured 360Kbps transmitting and 300Kbps receiving).

Transferring Content, Music & Video Playback Old & New Apps on Honeycomb, Plus It's Crashy
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  • punjabiplaya - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Looks good, I'm really tempted to pick one up (wifi model) if it truly is $600. Any word from Google on any updates to fix the crashing? I assume with updates (including driver optimizations) it can only get faster and there's no way that Google/Motorola isn't aware of the crashing apps. Reply
  • LeftSide - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Don't hold your breath. I have an Epic 4g and just now got the 2.2 update. Google needs to standardize their update system. Until they do, I will not buy another Android device. Waiting for months just for an outdated update, so that you can download and use the latest apps (skype) is unacceptable. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Blame Samsung, not Google. Most HTC & Motorola devices were running 2.2 as of last September. My EVO got Froyo (2.2) in August, a mere two months after it's release (and only like there months after Froyo itself launched). People need to start doing some research and stop rewarding manufacturers that are lousy with updates, like Samsung and Sony Ericson. Reply
  • daveloft - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I say blame the carriers. All six carriers in Canada carrying the Galaxy S device released 2.2 before any of the American carriers. This seemed to be the situation around the world as well. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Yeah at this point it's their fault, it still took Samsung twice as long to release the updates as it took other manufacturers tho. Sprint and T-mobile recently updated their Galaxy S variants to 2.2 btw, so Verizon and AT&T are slacking off the most... Verizon has half a dozen other Android options tho, until today (Atrix) AT&T had no alternative to the Captivate, besides an iPhone. Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, March 07, 2011 - link

    At the same time, their devices came out later those other devices. Also all the international iteration of galaxy s had froyo long before any north america based galaxy S phones. Look at HTC Aria. AT&T is the worst carrier in terms of device update due to the fact that they want to restrict the device as much as they can. Look at the issues with hsupa with atrix.

    BTW i have a captivate running 2.2.1 and i had froyo running since last year which was based on the international version of galaxy s
    Reply
  • kkwst2 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Blame Canada. Reply
  • Milleman - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    Blame Terrance and Phillip! Reply
  • punjabiplaya - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    The reason I was asking is because there is no manufacturer skin. Honeycomb is unmolested by Motorola, so Google should be able to get updates to the device without Motorola having to customize their skin, then the carrier customizing that. Reply
  • Enormously Hatworthy - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Yep, since this is the reference hardware for the platform, you'll get OTA updates directly from Google. No carriers or OEMs to screw things up.

    No word from google though... I suppose they don't want to draw attention to the bugs on the first day of release. I'd bet there'll be a quiet update issued sometime in the next week or two.
    Reply

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