Late last week, Google dropped quite a surprise on us. Android 2.3.4 has begun its roll-out to Google’s Nexus S phone, and with it comes a feature that Android users have been clamoring for since before its release on Android 3.0; native video chatting in Google’s Talk app. Right after the announcement, Android 2.3.4 was released to AOSP and the modders and hackers answered the question that had been on the minds of many. Why hadn’t Google just released the app to the Market so everyone could have it? Well now you can grab it for yourself on XDA if you’ve just gotta have it and don’t have a Nexus S.
It seems to me, however, that Google had to have a reason for waiting for limiting Google Talk to Android 2.3.4 devices. After all, it’s not like this is the norm. When any other Google app is updated, it’s available in the Market. In the past, Google has only limited features to a specific version of the OS when there were OS level optimizations to ensure that the features would work correctly. Since this is not specifically mobile-on-mobile chatting, and in fact allows your phone to communicate with Android 3.0 devices as well as any computer running Google Talk with Video, it makes sense that things like battery optimization, data usage, and processor optimization (which are all things this app will need to run smoothly) would not be included in the app itself.
It’s likely that with the most powerful phones on the market, the difference will be negligible to some. Frankly, if video chat wasn’t smoother on, say, a G2X than it was on the Nexus S, I would be upset. For the best performance, I would advise users to either wait for their respective device to get the 2.3.4 update, or grab CyanogenMod once it’s functional. Grabbing just the app and installing it on your phone, however, seems to me like you would be inviting in a subpar experience.
*I would like to point out that these opinions are completely speculative and are the result of conversations had with developers. I am not a developer, and I do not have any evidence to support this opinion. If you have evidence either to support or to the contrary, please feel free to share it!