There is no denying that Facebook is making social connections and interactions incredibly easy. After reinventing the concept of social networking, Facebook has now become a platform and a global phenomenon paving way for millions of people across the globe to come together. Now that access to the internet is ubiquitous and bandwidth is cheap, video conferencing and chat usage is exponentially on the rise.
The problem with popular standalone video chat and conferencing apps is that you’ll have to have a separate account and you’ll have to invite your friends to come on board in order to engage in a meaningful conversation. However, when it comes to Facebook, where all our friends seems to be online all the time, video chat apps help bring single click access to your social network.
After the jump we have some of the nicest video chat and conferencing apps on the Facebook platform are taken for a spin. Join us.
Formerly known as 6Rounds, the flash-based live meeting and social entertainment platform has taken all its social networking fun and awesomeness to Facebook. The idea behind Rounds is to mimic a “real life” conversation, allowing people to share experiences (like playing online games, viewing friend’s profiles, watching YouTube videos, looking at digital photos, etc) as if they were sitting in the same room. Communication via Rounds is two way and instantaneous unlike the rest of the one to one chat services.
We’ve already reviewed the web app and gave it a thumbs up & with a glorious 9/10 rating. When I charted out to review their Facebook app I was pleasantly surprised to see the pleasant looking familiar UI with all the exciting features of the web app. To top it all, all my friends are readily available here at Facebook and I don’t have ping them via email and then drag them online to play with me.
The app politely asks if it can access the webcam to kick start the conversation. Once the video is up, we have interactive menus on the screen to start inviting friends. Actually, the screen has two different menus hidden and they can be accessed by hovering the mouse over the screen. On the left side we have the option to search the friends list and the invite screen, which gives us a unique URL that can be emailed to the friend to join in.
On the right side hover menu, we have a bunch of effects to morph the video on the screen. Thought most of the effects are pretty goofy, they are fun nonetheless. The design of the app is customizable using the Skinsoption.
If you are in the mood, you can watch a YouTube video together with a friend, all the while mocking the Double Rainbow Guy or one of the many Twilight “Saga” trailers. You can also play games and the collection seems to be the same from the web app and there isn’t anything new.
An option to grab the screen of your session with your friend is available right on the app itself and you can also publish it for the rest of the world to see in the Stream. You can view the snapshots shared by others and share the ones you liked in your Facebook wall.
Rounds Facebook app has a reward system called Coins, where users of the app get coins for performing actions like inviting friends to the app, publishing the unique URL, taking a snapshot and publishing it in the stream. These coins can then be used to add items to the interactive menu on the screen.
360Mate is a random Peer to Peer Text Audio/Video Chat for Facebook with some excellent features. Aside from being a fast and efficient video conferencing engine, this app allows us to either chat with strangers or only with our friends. From the public tab, you can see the open conversations that are going on and take part in them. If there are people with webcam, you can send a request to see what they are up to.
Even in the middle of the night there were quite a few people on the public chat room, so you will never run out fun while using the app. The list of our friends and their online status are displayed in a rather small box. The app has a feature to have a private video chat irrespective of whether they are your friends or a random stranger.
On Conference is a very simple and straight forward Facebook video conferencing app. There are no flashy menus, interactive features or groundbreaking design elements. Once you allow the app to access your account, a unique URL is assigned for your video conferencing session. When your friends join you, there also is an option to chat with them via text in addition to regular audio and video channels from your webcam and microphone.
Friend Cameo, just like its sweet name, is a such a great app. No, there no sneaky strangers lurking here and it is a very private space for you and your friends. The app shows the list of friends with a webcam setup for a chat and an option to invite others to your chat session with a unique URL. A prominently placed button lets you take screenshots of the chat sessions. There is a shuffle button at the top which said “the feature is unavailable at the moment” every time I clicked it. Weird! Except for the nag screen to rate this free app, all is well.
Stickam is the largest live streaming social network on the web. The Stickam app lets you broadcast your live video on Facebook. With the help of this app, you can easily add the Stickam player to your profile page or fan page to interact with your friends or fans live. The app is also integrated fully with Facebook chat.
Despite the app’s claim that no additional sign up is necessary, we are shown a sign up page even after allowing full access to our account information. After the sign up, thankfully we are not asked to verify the account via email validation. We are taken to a page from where we can update our status message in the app, a short story message (!) and link to a banner in our Facebook fan page.
After adding the Stickam player to your Facebook Profile or Fan Page, you can now stream your life live. After going live, you can invite friends to view the live stream. Alternatively, you can also have conventional one on one video chats with select friends from your list. With Stickam, you can also broadcast from your iPhone or Android smartphone as well.
vChatter does both random video chats and invite only private video chats with friends. Video chat with a random person works like a slideshow and the webcam streams keep on changing every few seconds. If you are annoyed by a particular person and could not stand them, just use the Next Person option to move on. The Post Pic option snaps a screenshot and posts directly on the wall without even confirming the image with you. So please be careful.
When it comes to personal video calling, all our Facebook friends are listed separately along with their online status and webcam availability. You can just click on the Call button to initiate a video chat or use the unique URL to invite people to the sessions.
Vawkr is a web app that allows us to create a group video chat rooms instantaneously without the need for sign ups or downloads. Vawkr video chat for Facebook has a very professional and thoughtfully designed interface. The app allows you to initiate video, audio, and text chat with your friends right from your profile.
If your friends have a webcam and they are online, they can chat with you using the ‘Talk to me‘ link under your profile. In a similar manner, you can also invite friends with webcam for a video chat right from the Vawkr chat application. Being busy? Vawkr helps you schedule a video chat for you and your friends to meet up at your chat room at a convenient time.
To pass time, you can also share YouTube videos and watch them with your friends. The video will start playing in a new window in the application.
When you are offline, your friends can leave an audio or video message for you if you are not present in your chat room. If allowed, messages left for you can also be accessed by other friends from your chat room.
Vawkr app can also be set to alert you via an instant messenger of your choice whenever someone visits your room.
Like every other time we have reviewed random video chat apps, we advise you to exercise caution while accessing a random stranger’s webcam feed. These services are definitely not for people below 18 years of age and almost in all cases not safe for work. That said, we would be glad to hear your favorite Facebook video chat & conference app in the comments section.