In case you haven’t heard, there’s definitely a war going on between Facebook and Google – and its only just begun. With all the recent hype and buzz going around the Internet about Google+, Facebook decided that they needed to take action to get back into the spotlight; so they’ve now partnered with Skype to bring its users video calling.
This means that you and any of your friends can see each other face-to-face using your webcams and chat using your voice. Seeing that Google+ just came on the scene with their video chatting feature called Hangouts, this “new” feature on Facebook seems rather unoriginal. Yet, Facebook’s video calling feature is actually pretty impressive and works a bit differently.
If you’re like me, most of your non-tech savvy family members and non-geeky friends have not even heard of Google+; if they have heard about it, more than likely they’re not willing to try it out. So that means you’re stuck still using Facebook and might as well welcome the new features (because there will definitely be more to come in this war) with open arms.
Let’s take a look at how to enable and use Facebook’s new video chat.
Before you can start video calling your friends, you will need to enable it. This can be done by going to the Facebook Video Calling page and clicking on the green “Get Started” button. You’ll then be prompted to download and run the Java application needed to use this feature. Don’t worry, this is a very quick process.
Note: The option to use this new feature is not available for everyone. When I asked my husband to visit the page, he was not able to see the green button. It stated that the feature wasn’t yet available to him. In this case you’ll need someone who can access the feature to initiate a video call with you. From there, they’ll be prompted to install and run the Java application.
How to Call A Friend
There are two ways to call your friends.
You can go into a chat window and click on the camera icon from the top bar of the window. This method lets you call any of your friends.
If they haven’t enabled the feature, they’ll be prompted to do so. If they aren’t online, you’ll be able to leave them a video message.
The other method is by clicking the “Call” button on your friend’s profile page. The “Call” button will appear right next to the message button, in the top right of their profile page.
If you happen to call them and they’re offline, you’ll be able to leave a video message.
Note: The “Call” button will only appear if you’re signed into Facebook chat and if that friend has the featured enabled. So if you don’t see a call button, you’ll have to use the first method so that they’ll be prompted to enable the feature.
Setup and Quality
The quality of the video chat is pretty impressive. I’ve tried Google+ Hangouts as well and I have to admit that the quality of the camera was not nearly as clear as Facebook’s video calling. There also weren’t nearly as many “hiccups” (i.e.. window freezing or delays).
If you’ve done a video chat in Skype, then you’ll recognize the setup; there is a small window in the top right corner of the main window so that you can see yourself. Once you’re done with a call, you can just close the window to end it.
Here is the camera view without the controls. The window can be enlarged, but this is the smallest size. Even at full screen view, the quality remained excellent.
Here is the camera view with the controls. While I am writing this on Windows, I did test out the feature on the Mac OS. So, your window may look a little different from mine. The only option available here is to change the source of your microphone (i.e.. internet or headset).
I do wish that there were more options. For instance, there is currently no way to mute your microphone from the video call window; so you’d need to go into your computer settings to do this or use the mute button on your headset (if it has one).
Also, unlike Google+ Hangouts, there is currently no way to do group video chats – something that is sure to come in handy for catching up with multiple friends and family, group projects, conferences, meetings, and more. For now, you can still use Skype for that. Since everyone is already on Facebook and are not likely to actually download Skype (if they haven’t already), this is definitely something that should be implemented ASAP. However, you can do group text chats within the normal chat window.
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s new video calling feature? Do you think it’s a necessary feature? Is it something that you can see yourself and/or friends and family using at all? Feel free to tell us your thoughts in the comments below.