It’s Time to Video Chat!
Most of us still haven’t made up our minds about video chat. Maybe it was the poor connection the first time we tried Skype, or the hassle of pre-arranging the call so both parties are online. Or maybe the thought of stepping in front of a camera still makes us a little anxious, particularly when a regular phone call or text is so much easier.
But make no mistake, the popularity of video chat is growing. New devices, better software, and faster network speeds are all combining to bring video chat into a whole new era of convenience and reliability. Whether it’s our kids discussing homework assignments, working moms checking in on the kids, or military families saying hi to loved ones overseas, video chat appears to be taking on a whole new life.
And video chat has now come to mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. If you are looking to video chat on-the-go, then here are just three of the ways you can get started:
Now owned by Microsoft, Skype is still the best known and most popular video chat platform, with over 650 million registered users. Skype requires custom software but both the download and the calls are free. Users are assigned a unique username, which can be listed in the international Skype directory. Video calls are made over the Internet, which means both parties have to be online.
Skype video calling is also available on properly equipped smartphones and tablets with the Skype mobile app. Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls are free, whether the other party is on a mobile device (Android, iOS, BlackBerry), or a PC or Mac. Skype can also be used to make or receive international calls from regular landline or mobile phones at heavily discounted rates.
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE customers can also enjoy Skype video calling on their Android smartphones and tablets with Skype Mobile on Verizon.
Facetime is Apple’s custom video calling app, which was introduced with the iPhone 4 but which is also available on the iPod touch, iPad 2, and now all Mac computers. FaceTime is a proprietary app, which means it can only be used on Apple devices. But it’s “cross-platform,” which means an iPhone can call an iPad 2 and an iPod touch can call a Mac.
The new iOS 5 software makes FaceTime incredibly versatile and easy to use. Just find the contact you want to call, tap the FaceTime button, and the person you’re calling will be invited to join the chat. You can switch from a regular call to a FaceTime call mid-conversation, and even use Siri, Apple’s new voice activation tool, to initiate the call.
One of the most popular features of the Google+ social network, Hangouts allows instant video chat between individuals in the same Google+ network. Up to 10 people can be on a Hangouts chat at the same time. As Google suggests, Hangouts is like “when you walk into a pub or step onto your front porch.”
A mobile app allows you to initiate or join a Hangouts video chat from a properly enabled smartphone, and easy access to Hangouts is a feature of the recently-launched Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone from Verizon. Again, you can chat with up to 9 of your friends at the same time, raising incredible possibilities for mobile connections.
Have you tried mobile video chat? What’s your favorite video chat app? Share your thoughts with Family Buzz!
I have been compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.