Recent announcements, such as Google's addition of voice calling in Gmail, along with the partnership between Facebook and Skype, could be heralding a new age of interactivity for the Web. And talking with your voice on the web could become almost as common as typing.Of course we are still a ways away from a web where the voice is a fully integrated choice for communication and interactivity. But new services are making headway.
We'll still have to wait and see to find out just how Skype and Facebook will integrate. And most likely some form of plugin, if not a full install of Skype, will probably need to be used at least in the beginning.
But I also see a point where voice is fully integrated throughout Facebook, where talking to a friend is as easy as text chatting. Actually, we're already almost there.
Third party software makers, such as Vivox, already offer free Facebook applications that make it possible to voice chat with friends. And in tests these services have worked well.
However, these services are just the beginning. To be fully successful they need to be almost invisible and completely seamless, where you can simply click on a person or an icon in a website and instantly be connected via voice.
And I do think we can get there. It wasn't all that long ago that text-based chat was still done mainly in separate applications and wasn't integrated into major web applications.
Over time that changed. And now we pretty much expect that a web-based application, whether a consumer oriented service like Facebook or a corporate enterprise application, will have text chat built right in.
To a large degree this transition almost always takes place first in the gaming world. Long before chat was common in web applications, gamers were texting back and forth within online gaming worlds.
And gamers have been using integrated voice controls within games to communicate for years now. It only makes sense that this technology would start to transfer over to general applications.
Of course there are problems, especially when connecting to different networks or even traditional phones. And I don't think that voice will become a dominant means of communicating on the web.
For the most part though I think this is a welcome move. There are just some conversations that work better through voice and having it easier than ever to connect with friends and colleagues is something I'll be happy to talk about.