Without any announcement, Gmail Chat has gone live.
I collared my partner-in-crime, Greg Narain, before he headed out for the Northern Voice conference (sorry I won’t be there this year, guys!), and chatted a bit.
The integration works as advertised. There is a ‘quick contacts’ pane under the various ‘boxes’, which apparently defaults to everyone in my Gmail directory:
When you mouse over the contacts in the list — ordered by who you have talked to the most - a selector opens, asking if you’d like to email or chat, or view recent conversations: these are a union of chat sessions and emails. Very neat.
The chats open as a tombstone within the window…
…but you can pop it out into its own window:
I like it. It’s not the dream I have, at least not yet: we will have to wait for Nerdvana. I lack voice and video, so it’s not up to par with the other IM services, but since I have shifted over to Gmail as a primary email platform (and on my phone with Gmail mobile (m.gmail.com — when is chat going to show up there?) it is a wonderfully natural thing.
It will be interesting to see how many people shift to using a gmail identity, now that it serves as a unified chat and email platform.
[Update: Googlescoped reports on Gmail Chat.]