In the beginning, there was Skype. It was great for face to face and audio conversations with others anywhere they could be connected. Problems evolved over time; it wasn’t available on this platform or incompatible with that platform and every time I would use it, there was the inevitable update.
Then, there were the commercial products. When I was on the OSAPAC Committee, we evaluated a few (having a whack of fun doing so) and eventually licensing Adobe Connect for the province. This was really upping the ante since you had so many features that you’d find in formal meetings. The problem with it was that it did require that you have access to someone who had a licensed version of the software if you wanted a conversation or meeting. I kind of became the laughing stock of our committee when we moved to online meetings. At the time, it required a great deal of bandwidth in order to work and send video. With my incredibly slow internet here, the committee was robbed of my image…
For two years of planning the Bring IT, Together Conference with my co-chair Cyndie, we seemed to live on Google Hangouts. There was so much planning and so many details that we seemed to be meeting at least once a day to go over details. Hangouts were a great way of handling things. There came a time with a browser update (I can’t remember which browser now) that the button needed to give permissions to use the camera and microphone were hidden under another menu bar in the browser. It was bizarre and no matter where I clicked (or how hard I clicked – Doug has issues…), I couldn’t give the appropriate permission and so was effectively locked out of using Hangouts on that browser. Fortunately, Google Chrome still worked and so I was good. Recently, Google has broken Hangouts into its own separate application. It feels a little kludgey at this point but still works nicely.
Then, with an update to Mozilla Firefox comes conversations right in the browser again!
It’s called Hello and it just works so smoothly as shown in this tutorial on the Mozilla website.
It’s a button that sits up there with your other extensions. Click it to get started.
Then you need get a unique link to the person you’ll communicate with. You can see that there are a couple of options for doing this in blue.
Send the invite and wait for them to join the conversation.
So, here in the labs, I’m talking to myself again. I’m in the host window, lower right, and I’m talking to the wall behind me.
The whole process was very slick and easy. No software to install and, according to Mozilla, it’s not restricted to Firefox – just any browser that supports WebRTC.
The list needs to be updated – it seems to work well with Vivaldi as well.
But not Internet Explorer…
So, why would you be interested in this over the other offerings? The really nice part is that you don’t need to have a login on a particular service to access the conversation. Just a working browser and an invitation to a conversation.
Join me for a video conversation using Firefox Hello:
You don’t have to download or install anything. Just copy and paste this URL into your browser:
If you want, you can also learn more about Firefox Hello at https://www.firefox.com/hello/
Talk to you soon!
You’ll note that, in the screen capture above, Mozilla has it marked as Beta. There are some features that others in this class that aren’t there. Document sharing, back channelling, private conversations come to mind.
For what’s there now, it’s the easiest way to start a conversation without the hoops that other tools have. This is one to watch.
And, I got some homework for myself. I spent some time reading and trying to get my head around just what WebRTC is and its potential. There’s lots on the horizon.