Facebook Video Calling Review

Sections

Pros

  • Easy set-up
  • Integrated into chat

Cons

  • No group calling
  • Issues with installation

Key Specifications

  • 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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