I love video chats with my grandchildren and other family members. I also get invited to video chats for business meetings and occasionally also make video presentations to genealogy societies that may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. A few years ago, I sat in the audience at a genealogy conference where the presenter was about 12,000 miles away but she appeared on a large screen in front of the audience. In fact, it was a two-way video conference: she could hear and see us as we watched and listened to her.
Video conferencing equipment used to cost thousands of dollars only a few years ago. The improvements in home computers since then has dropped the prices dramatically. Most of us can now participate in two-way video conferences at no additional charge by using the computers we already own.
I first used Skype videoconferencing and it worked well, although was a bit difficult to set up. I then moved to Apple Facetime, software that requires essentially no configuration or other “fiddling,” just launch it and start using it. While Facetime works well, it is limited to a single connection. There is no group conferencing feature. In addition, Facetime only works on Macintosh computers as well as iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. There is no Facetime version for Windows computers or Android devices.
In recent months, I have participated in a few Google+ video hangouts and have been impressed with the ease and the quality of the conversations. It works well in group video conferences as well as in one-on-one conversations. Google+ video hangouts work on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, and Apple mobile devices.
Now Google has just announced a new feature that will simplify video chats even more.
Soon you will not need to install anything to initiate a Google+ video chat in Chrome. The new feature is already available to developers and others using beta test software from Google and will become available to the rest of us within a few weeks. All the user needs to participate is to use the Chrome browser and log onto the video chat’s web address.
Details may be found at https://plus.google.com/u/0/103171586947853434456/posts/39TCW3PcLye.
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