Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Facebook Adds Video Chat Through Skype Partnership

I am not overly surprised by this announcement because we have heard the rumors swirl on this for over a year.  I do feel it is an overdue feature and also think it comes at a great time on the heels of Google+.
How it works:
It’s very simple to use. In the chat window you can click anyone's name and hit the camera icon to video call them.  If they have a webcam and you have a webcam the video chat will be enabled.  If they don’t have a webcam they can still hear you via voice only.  It’s a one time download and only requires a few steps not hard to install. It is an in browser experience.  

Also if a person isn’t online you can actually leave them a recorded message.

When will this be available?
I spoke with Facebook and they noted they would be rolling it out to a small percentage of users initially and to everyone within a week.

You can also gain access by:
Turn on Video Calling using a link on their blog post and their learn more page.
Having a friend who has it and initiates a Video Call (viral distribution).

Video chat explosion
I don’t think anyone can discount the explosion we’ve seen in video chat over the last few years.  Now more than ever there are a ton of ways to connect face to face.  Many turn to Skype as a free service, Google Talk if you have a Gmail account, a lot of smartphones offer video chat solutions and theres also services that are a bit more expensive that allow you to connect through the TV for more of a telepresence option but I think why this is a big deal because of Facebook’s ubiquity and because its free.  And most important download is very easy for the least tech savvy.

We’ve seen Facebook announce a lot of new features over the last couple years many of which were underwhelming but I think this has the capability to be a big add.  You think of staying in touch with family and friends but also it’s a way for military families to easily connect, long distance relationships, kids in college – not new just on that universal Facebook platform.

Facebook and privacy always in the same sentence.  Understand you don’t have to sign on to chat nor do you don’t have to answer someones call but I think this is a good time for all of us to look at our ‘Friend’ list and come to terms that we really don’t have that many friends and that it might be a good time to spring clean with humans.

If you are a parent though I think you should perk up and know that this exists.  Lots of kids on Facebook, lots of kids with laptops.  Don’t want those late night slumber parties to get an upgrade. 

Other things worth noting:
Facebook also announced Group Chats. (Text only video is 1:1 at this point) and a new sidebar design.

1 comment:

  1. Leaving the recorded message is a really neat feature! But so far in all other ways Google+'s Hangouts feature beats Skype/Facebook video chat experience. It supports group video chat (and does it very well from the tests I've run), and the video streams are pumped out through Google's servers instead of peer-to-peer like Skype, which makes for better quality. Also, Google is working on making their video chat fully based on HTML 5, so if you have a browser that supports that, you won't have to download a plugin at all.

    (I know the Google+/Facebook comparison is being done to death, but that's because it's highly on people's minds.)



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