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Gmail gets video Hangout

Google begins rolling out video chat integration for its Web e-mail starting today.

Gmail users will soon be able to use the same video chat technology that Google uses for its Google+ social network. Earlier today the company began rolling out the newer Google+ Hangouts functionality to Gmail, which has had video chat for the last three years.

This is mostly an under-the-hood announcement of an effort that's slated for completion within the next few weeks. The biggest difference is that unlike the service's previous video chat, which was based on peer-to-peer technology, the upgraded service will offer improved reliability and also let users connect with people using Google+, according to the company. Perhaps the coolest grabber in the upgrade: you can manage up to nine friends or colleagues from Gmail.

All Gmail users will benefit from this upgrade, but if you and the person you're chatting with also use Google+, you'll get even more from the Hangouts experience. You'll be able to video chat with up to nine people at once, watch YouTube videos together, collaborate on Google documents and share your screen. Plus, Hangouts has a bunch of fun effects that you can try out...because any conversation is better when you're wearing a virtual mustache or pirate hat.