As with much of Apple's software, iChat is easy to use despite running a variety of complex technologies (video, audio, themes, screen sharing, etc.). On occasion, these may not run as smoothly as one would expect. With a high-speed internet connection for instance, you should be able to run smooth video, and yet some people are experiencing choppiness or dropped audio during video conferencing. Additionally, the program may crash when running video in 64-bit mode.… Read more
Well, I'm here at the Apple store in the Westfield Oakridge mall in San Jose, waiting.
I got here at about 6:45am and the line was already up around 60 people, somewhat more than I expected. I'm here with a couple of friends who got iPhones last year and are looking to upgrade.
I opened up iChat's Bonjour networking window, but nobody else seems to be using it. Bonjour iChat is usually a great way for strangers to chat at public events, but there are very few people here with laptops.
Apple employees are circulating, but… Read more
Apple's stock instant-message program in Mac OS X is currently in its fourth release and has made steady improvements in competing with third-party chat programs to provide advanced functionality such as tabs, animated buddy icons, and utilities to assist the transfer of multiple files. At its heart, iChat is a dead simple way to connect with IM buddies on multiple networks including AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, and Bonjour. Missing, however, is support for other popular protocols such as Windows Live Messenger, IRC, and Yahoo Messenger.
Some of the standout features in the latest iteration of iChat include advanced video … Read more
Remember ooVoo, that iChat-like video conferencing and chat tool we took a look at back in June? Today they've launched a new version that has got a handful of useful, powerful tools that make it a viable alternative for small workgroups using conference calls and screen-sharing applications, such as WebEx.
First up is a new recording feature that lets users tape video chats with other participants. Since the video and audio are being recorded to the hard drive, the only time limit is how much free space the computer has. In testing, I managed to get a nearly 15 minute, four-way video conversation down to 95 MB file. The application took about 10 minutes to convert my conversation into workable FLV file that was at a full 1MB/S quality. It can also step it down to 256kb/s or 512kb/s if the file needs to be smaller.
The other really useful feature is a new conference calling tool that gives host and participants a landline number to call. Other ooVoo users who call this conference line get plugged right into the audio that's a part of the video chat, and just like the video recordings, this audio gets archived too. The new call in lines support up to six people, meaning users can have up to a dozen participants--including those on the video side. The call in service is free this month, but it is moving to a by-the-minute model in March.
Besides the video recording, the other new feature that I think people are going to like is an optional piece of software that's a companion for ooVoo's video player. The companion has two main uses. The first is a screen sharing application that lets users show off an entire screen, or certain zoom levels, to other video chat participants. Users can also drop media files, such as music, pictures, or video into the stream for other users to view. Secondly, it's got a built-in facial overlay tool, like Fix8, that applies digital overlays either to users faces or to replace backgrounds. It's great fun.… Read more
This weekend has been a rather busy one for iPhone developers. Adobe Systems hosted the iPhoneDevCamp in its San Francisco offices, and the result is 50 new Web apps specifically designed for Apple's shiny new toy. Earlier today we wrote about some of our favorites, although one of the more important ones that didn't come out the developer's event was the new iPhone-optimized version of Trillian from Cerulean Studios. From the looks of the pictures on their blog, it looks a lot like iChat, and more important is finger- and eye-friendly, especially when compared to Meebo's current offerings.… Read more
ooVoo is a free, standalone desktop chat application that has both a text and video chat capabilities. Its official launch is next week, but the beta has been available since mid April. I took it for a spin this morning and came away impressed.
There are a ton of chat clients out there, so one of the things it has done to differentiate itself is multiperson video chat. ooVoo can handle as many as six people in one video conference, which is two more than what iChat is capable of. Users can drop in and out of conversations, and the video windows will scale with a similar effect to iChat's "swoop." Along with video, users can chat among themselves with their computer's microphone or a headset. There are volume controls for both speakers and the microphone right in the chat window, a handy addition.
I found the video and audio to be fairly clear, even when topped off at six users. ooVoo's creators tell me that when running full six-user video, it will take up only half the bandwidth on a low-end DSL connection. Assuming you're not downloading or uploading large files in the background, your connection shouldn't drag to a halt.
In addition to live video and text chat, ooVoo doubles as a video e-mail service. Users can send each other video messages as long as a minute in length that are available right in the app or via e-mail. Users who get the e-mail are also provided a link that takes them to a live flash version of the video, so they can access it while away from their home machine.
For people interested in adding a quick way to be reached on their social networking profile or Web site, ooVoo gives users the option to embed a quick contact button that will automatically launch an ooVoo conversation if installed. I've posted an example image of this on the left side of this post.
ooVoo is not alone in the multiperson video chat space; competitor SightSpeed also offers a free video and text chat service. The main difference is that SightSpeed is aimed at businesses and limits video chat to four users at a time with a monthly subscription fee.
ooVoo is currently available only for Windows users, although the team is releasing a beta for Macs in about six weeks. Users on both platforms will be able to chat with one another using the same client.