Facebook Video Calling

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Easy set-up
  • Integrated into chat

Cons

  • No group calling
  • Issues with installation

Key Features

  • One-on-one video calling
  • Integrated into Facebook Chat
  • In-browser video chat

Do we really need any more ways to connect with people? Are

we not sufficiently catered for already with a plethora of instant

communication networks for us to talk with whoever we want to – in a way we

want to? Well, according to Facebook (and Google), the answer is a resounding

No.

Mark Zuckerberg last week

launched a new-look Facebook Chat, which now allows for Group Chat but all the

headlines went to the eye catching video-calling feature. Though how

eye-catching this feature really is, remains to be seen.

Facebook video-calling powered by Skype is essentially all

about convenience. It is the ease of use of this new feature which will be its

biggest selling point, but once you get beyond that, does it really offer

anything new?

Installation

First off, lets look at how you go about getting the feature

installed.  Facebook claimed at the

press conference that installation was a quick and easy process that would take

less than 30 seconds, no matter what system and broadband connection you were

using. A bold claim.

A claim however that seemed to be backed up, when we managed

to download the Java plug-in needed to activate video-calling within 15 seconds

and had it up and running within a minute. It all seemed very easy and straight

forward, which is key to making any new feature on a social network appealing

to the masses. You don’t even need to have Skype installed on your computer to

allow this to work. However having spotted a few tweets over the weekend about

problems installing the plug-in we decided to try it on another computer to see

if it would be as easy.

Initially we used a

MacBook Pro (2010) running Mac OS X 10.5.8 with

Firefox 5, and had no issues, however we ran into trouble when we tried it out

on an older laptop. Using a

2008 MacBook running Mac OS X 10.4.11 and using Firefox 3.6.18 we were unable

to set up video-calling. Having visited the http://www.facebook.com/videocalling www.facebook.com/videocalling site and

followed the instructions, we got an error message saying an error had

occurred. When we clicked the Try Again button, a .jar file was downloaded to

our desktop. When we ran the program a progress bar appeared but soon another

error message appeared stating: “Video calling has encountered an error

during installation. Please try again later”

               

Despite numerous attempts we were unable to install the

plug-in. We tried using Safari but got a similar result and since the laptop

had a version of Mac OS X which Chrome doesn’t support, we couldn’t try it on

that browser. Looking at the Facebook Help Center, the only explanation we

could find was that Facebook suggests using the latest versions of any browser

and as a result older systems will not be supported. If this is the case, it

could curb the amount of people who will be able to use the feature, though for

most people using newer versions of the browsers, the system should work fine.

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