Yesterday afternoon Facebook announced the new Video Chat functionality that has been hotly anticipated following the introduction of Google+.
Not only have Facebook added Video Chat to their site but you can also now use Group Chat which allows you to add friends to a conversation stream.
This morning me and Kevin Young put the Video chat through its paces and this is what I thought of Facebook’s latest feature.
Whilst Facebook are a little late adding the Video Chat functionality, it is stable and I think overall it works really well. Calling someone is easy and setup is about a 3 minute process with only one plugin to install. This is a Java plugin that is downloaded and run from your machine, once installed you are ready to start chatting!
To start a video chat you just open your chat client, select a friend from your list and select the video icon located in the top right of the chat window. This will then attempt to call the user you have selected to start a video chat with.
If the user does not have video calling enabled or they have not installed the plugin to accept your call then they will be asked to do this on receipt of your invitation.
At this point you will then see a calling screen that tells you Facebook is calling your friend or a screen that tells you the person you are calling is setting up the video calling (if they have not done so). When using Video Calling you must be a friend of the person you are calling and they must be online to initiate the call.
Once you connect with your friend you will be presented with a video window (courtesy of Skype!!) that can be resized to made bigger depending on your screen size and includes mouse position controlled options that allow you to adjust audio options etc. The window is very intuitive as it can be resized to suit and the video fills the whole window so it can be dragged elegantly around your screen(s).
So what if the friend that you are trying to call is not available ?
No problem, as you can send a video message!
This will allow you to record a video and leave it for the user which they will then be able to access through their messages inbox.
Facebook have done well to integrate all their functionality through the users chat and mailbox although they are still missing something that I believe is important for social websites to incorporate, and that thing is group video chat. Google have introduced this with Hangouts and was fully expecting Facebook to implement this with their new changes.
You can also see an excellent blow by blow of Facebook’s announcement made on Thursday the 6th July here