Video chat platforms continue to develop and improve. As high speed internet access becomes more widespread and reliable, so will the use of video chat. Smartphones and tablet computers are also encouraging the usage of video chat. Additionally, video chat is typically offered for free and provides richer communication (vocal and visual), than a phone call. With so many positive factors, this communication medium should be embraced and not avoided.
You’ve probably heard of various video chat platforms but which one is best for you? Take a look at some of our insights and analysis below to help you get started.
Skype is probably the most widely known video chat platform. It was released nearly 10 years ago in 2003. Since its release, Skype built a a market of nearly 600 million users. In 2011, Microsoft acquired the company for US$ 8.5 billion (~ RM 26 billion).
Skype focuses on providing the core features to directly communicate with people in a video chat. Here are some pros and cons of the application.
- You can use Skype to not only communicate with other Skype users but also to call people on phones.
- You can send files using Skype.
- You can implement a screenshare on Skype (in other words, there is a function so that the person you’re talking with can see exactly what is on your screen. This can be very useful when you need to communicate something visually, such as a presentation, report, website, etc.
- Skype is the “classic” video chat platform. It is a reliable for product for voice, video, and instant messaging communications.
- Skype’s group video chat function is only available to premium users.
- To use Skype, you need to download and install it into your computer. It is an independent software application. Many other video chat platforms can work directly through your web browser.
- Many video chat platforms are trying to incorporate a “social discovery” by providing tools for you to meet and discover other people. Skype users can only communicate with their known contacts. There is no tool for social discovery.
To download Skype, visit www.skype.com.
2. Google Hangout
Google Hangout is a video chat platform offered by, obviously, Google. It is part of the Google+ social network, which was released on 28 June, 2011. This video chat platform is growing in popularity. It is easy-to-use and offers some neat features. Here are some pros and cons of Google Hangout.
- Google Hangout operates through a web browser. Thus, you don’t need to download, install, and open an application to use it.
- Google Hangout has a clean and friendly interface. It is uncluttered and the functions are easy to learn.
- Google Hangout offers some fun special effects to entertain people in Hangout. You can add visual effects to you face (glasses, facial hair, hats, etc) and sounds effects (instrumental sounds, clapping, etc). The visual effects will lock onto your face and actually do a pretty decent job aligning with your head and facial movements. It can certainly add some cartoonish humour to a conversation when used at the right moments!
- Google Hangout has a screenshare function, which can be great for business purposes, such as showing a presentation, website, report, video or whatever else you need to display from your computer.
- Since Hangouts are part of Google, there is a lot of cross product integration. For example, you can create a Hangout directly from a YouTube video, so you can watch the video simultaenously with other people.
- Up to 10 people can participate in a Google Hangout, making it a great platform for group video chats.
- As part of it’s social discovery component, Google Hangout allows you to create Hangouts with people of similar interests, like creating hangouts in the Communities section of Google+.
- To access and create Hangouts, you need to have a Google+ account.
- Google+ and Google Hangout are still emerging, so not as many people are using it as Facebook or Skype. Thus, you may struggle find people that you know to video chat with on this platform.
You can setup your Google+ account and starting creating hangouts by visiting the Google+ site.
See More: Four Reasons to Join Google+
Airtime is a video chat platform that was launched on 5 June 2012 by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, the creators of Napster, which at one point was the most famous peer-to-peer music sharing network. Sean Parker is also a co-founder of Facebook.
Airtime primarily focuses on connecting like-minded individuals, friends of friends, and people in the same geographic area. Other video chat platforms have attempted this social discovery component; however, Airtime actually does very well at blocking x-rated content. The platform can also be used simply to have video chats directly with your known contacts.
- To access Airtime, you login via your Facebook account. This results in you having a huge contact list once you’re on the platform.
- Airtime has YouTube sharing capabilities, so you can watch YouTube videos simultaneously with other people in a video chat.
- Airtime offers a quality random pairing video chat system. In other words, when you want to initiate a video chat with a stranger, it does a good job at preventing video chats with x-rated content.
- Airtime works directly through your browser, so you do not need to download and install a separate application.
- Airtime is not widely used. It’s typically used by industry insiders.
- The fact that Airtime requires Facebook connectivity may be a negative to some people. When you first login, Airtime requires access to a lot of personal details in your Facebook account. While it should be safe accepting that, many people may still feel uncomfortable sharing so much personal data to a third party application.
Facebook offers a basic video chat system as part of their social network. This is a basic video chat service, and its greatest strength is probably its convenience when logged on Facebook. It’s very easy to start a video chat with some of your contacts who are on Facebook at the same time as you.
- Since this video chat is connected to Facebook, you immediately have access to likely one of your largest contact lists.
- Facebook video chat is very convenient to use when logged on Facebook. When you’re on Facebook, a video chat is only a couple of clicks away.
- Facebook video chat does not offer screensharing.
- Facebook video chat does not offer YouTube video sharing capabilities.
- Facebook video chat does not offer group video chats.
The four video chat products described above are your best bets for finding a video chat service that suits your interests. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can find many others products. A few other video chat products you can explore include:
- Omegle: This is another random pairing video chat service. You input your interests or enable Omegle to access your Facebook account, and it will then try to connect you with a suitable person.
- Chatroulette: This is another random pairing video chat service. Unlike Airtime, this platform does not have a program to block x-rated content. Thus, be prepared to possibly discover explicit video chats.
- Oovoo: This is a basic video chat product aimed for direct communications with your known contacts. This may be your best bet if you need to maximize the number of people in your group video chats (it allows up to 12 people in a video chat – Google Hangout allows up to 10 people).
What video chats do you recommend? Any questions about the ones above? Post comments below, and let’s talk!
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