If we were ever in doubt that Google+ is becoming more of a focus for Google, today's Gmail announcement just reinforces it a little bit more. The video chat feature in Gmail is being replaced as of this morning. Taking its place, Google+ Hangouts.
It isn't that surprising to see this integration eventually come around, but it is still a welcome upgrade. Google+ Hangouts is already a pretty powerful video conferencing tool, and without having to be in Google+ to use it just makes it that bit more useful day-to-day. It also means that you're able to reach your contacts for video chatting on their mobile devices too.
The beauty is, every Gmail user will benefit from this upgrade, they don't have to be using Google+. But, if you're a user of both, then you can enjoy the full Hangouts experience such as watching YouTube videos together, collaborating on documents, or perhaps more importantly, dressing as a pirate.
Source: Gmail Blog