Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

What New Features Will Google Reveal at Mobile Event Thursday? Some Think It Should Be Integrated Video Calling.

Today, Google sent out a notice that it would be holding a press event Thursday morning at its San Francisco offices, where the search giant would be “unveiling a couple of cool new mobile features.”

Google mobile product management director Hugo Barra will demo the additions, which some think should include integrated video calling in the Android mobile operating system.

That’s not going to be the case, according to sources with knowledge of the announcements, who said the event will be more of a low-key show-and-tell of some slick features. A move like integrated video calling would likely get a lot more fanfare, too.

But many think Google (GOOG) should aim higher sooner, since it is critical that Android get off the stick in the video calling arena, especially given that Apple (AAPL) is reportedly planning an aggressive expansion of its FaceTime software in its many devices.

Who will dominate video calling in the mobile space is sure to be yet another point of contention between the two Silicon Valley superpowers, once allies and now, well, not so much.

Apple introduced FaceTime in June when it launched the iPhone 4, which allows picture-in-picture chat via Wi-Fi.

In addition, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the launch that the company would release the FaceTime protocol as a open industry standard.

With the surge in smartphone sales and the growing race between Google and Apple to attract customers to their offerings, key product differentiators such as seamless video calling will be critical.

While there are several Android phones and also apps that do live video, such as Qik, they are not integrated into the operating system, as Apple’s FaceTime is, and therefore are not under complete Google control.

Dropped phone calls are irksome, but glitchy video chat is going to be right up there as a consumer annoyance.

Other than integrated video calling, another feature that should be on Android users’ wish lists to match Apple might be a “find my phone” offering directly from Google, rather than from app providers, that can be used to retrieve lost or stolen mobile devices, as well as lock and wipe them.

Also sorely needed: Better wireless synchronization for music and other media.

(Personally, BoomTown–who is attending the event–is hoping it’s the Schminternet.)