Up Close and Personal
Face-to-face communication makes a comeback—across the screen
Tech / 18 Jul 2011
The Internet has changed the way people communicate, and some fear that’s for the worse. Though reports of teens typing more than they talk are daunting, there may be a silver lining in the rise of video communication. If this tech-obsessed generation is going to spend so much time behind screens, at least now they can have some human interaction while they’re at it.
Facebook Video Calling:
Connecting via social media just got a lot more personal, with a real-time twist, as Facebook’s new partnership with Skype seems to be the simplest, most universal video calling service on the web. One of the main perks is that everyone already has it. Unlike other video communication clients, users don’t need an outside service or a new account. As long as both parties are one of the 750 million already on Facebook, they’re good to go. Another plus, thanks to wunderkind designer Rob Mason, is its ease of use: simply click on the video icon within the chat window to go screen-to-screen with another user.
Google Hangouts:
Along with Google’s Circles and Sparks, the search monster’s Hangouts feature has been making major waves on the web ever since new social sharing project Google+ launched last month. Harkening back to the days when chat rooms weren’t creepy, and integrating webcams for more intimate effect, Hangouts allow groups to shoot the breeze via shared screen gatherings. After all, it’s no secret that the millions of Google users who leave their Gmail windows open 24/7 already spend immeasurable hours on Gchat. Hangouts may prove to be an even more fulfilling way to spend time with friends online, not to mention a powerful tool for remote collaborations.
Mobile Video Calls:
One thing neither Facebook Video Calling nor Google+ Hangouts provides is mobile functionality. That’s where services like Qik, Tango and fring come in. Those who don’t have the iPhone 4 and, thus, access to FaceTime can use these apps to enjoy mobile video calling on their iOS or Android device. Fring is the first client of its kind to provide group video calling across a range of smartphones. Meanwhile, Tango is growing faster than Skype did in its first year, gaining two million new users a month. Maybe with all these options for video calls, thoughts will once again flow from our mouths rather than our fingertips.
©The Intelligence Group