Gmail’s Free Texting — What Happened?

Still searching for that new Gmail free texting feature we heard about on Friday? Turns out the reports of its debut were true — but Google has run into some technical troubles and has decided to delay the rollout as a result.

In case you didn’t see the original story, word leaked last week that Gmail Labs would be adding an SMS chat option. It’ll let you send a text message to any U.S. mobile phone through Gmail’s Web-based chat interface. All of your texts will come from a specific and constant 406 area code, so people can text back to you and their messages will show up in your chat window — just like a normal IM-style conversation.

Google Product Manager Leo Dirac now reveals, however, that his team came across an unexpected problem in the final moments of testing. “We found a glitch,” he says. “When you’d try to turn it on, it wouldn’t fully enable. We thought about keeping it out there — bugs and all — but the experience wasn’t that great.”

As a result, Dirac says, SMS chat has been put on hold until it can be fixed. He predicts we’ll see the feature appear within the next two weeks, though, so hopefully you won’t be holding your breath for long.

(Image: Webmonkey)