This past week we noticed a bit of an oddity in how AT&T handled the video chat element in Google's new "Google+ Hangouts" app on cellular data: in effect, it didn't work. Asking AT&T about the situation, it was discovered that they had a policy in place for pre-loaded apps working with video chat, making it clear that it's the OS makers (Google and Apple) and the device makers (Samsung, BlackBerry, LG, HTC, Apple), that were responsible for enabling pre-loaded apps to be able to work with cellular data for video chat. Today, AT&T makes it clear that Apple, Samsung, and BlackBerry will be making a big change by June for all their pre-loaded apps.
Though there's still no word on how any of this affects Google+ Hangouts at all - since it doesn't come pre-loaded with devices at this very moment - AT&T is making it clear that changes are in the works. Changes for pre-loaded apps only. Specific to three manufacturers: Apple, Samsung, and BlackBerry, pre-loaded apps working with Mobile Share or Tiered data plans will have instant access to video chat with mobile data.
"For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and Blackberry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps. And by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers." - AT&T Representative
So if you've got an Apple, Samsung, or BlackBerry device - and one of those data plans - you'll be able to video chat with pre-loaded apps no matter your connection.
AT&T goes on to say that they're opening their doors wider later this year, allowing pre-loaded apps to use video chat on any phone no matter the customer's data plan. You'll still have to pay for the data you use while chatting, but you'll be able to do so without a hassle.
"Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end." - AT&T Representative
Strangely enough, AT&T insists that "any mobile video chat app" that's not pre-loaded with a device they purchase should be able to be "used" without trouble. It would seem that Google+ Hangouts is considered a native app by AT&T due to its replacing of Google Talk, therefor rendering Video chat limited to wifi until each of these announcements take hold.
"Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the Internet, such as Skype." - AT&T Representative
Let us know if you're able to use Google+ Hangouts with mobile data on your AT&T device later this June. At the moment we're still seeing the error that brought us to this point last week. Video chat freedom, on the way!