Anyone Up For a Video Call?

It has been a busy summer so far for social networking news.  In the past two weeks we’ve seen the trial launch of Google+, and Facebook’s launch of Video Calling and Group Chat.  Also, in case you missed it, Facebook officially announced that its user population has reached over 750 million users.  Just last July the big news was that Facebook hit the 500 million users milestone.

I cannot tell you much about Google+ from personal experience, as I am still waiting for my invitation!  Google+ has been launched as a limited field trial for now.  That is okay, I never like being the first to try newly released products.   I can wait for the new improved version after the bugs are fixed.  There are many reviews of Google+ features that you can find online.  The main excitement is over Circles which allows you to organize your friends in Circles for sharing, and Hangouts which is group video chatting.  You can click on Take the tour (top left) from this link to find out more about Google+ features:  http://www.google.com/intl/en-US/+/demo/.

Personally, regarding video calling, I am home on my PC and not out in public for a reason. How about you?  I am definitely going to have to rethink my Facebook time, if I am now going to get requests from friends for a video call.  I can see myself now, running to the mirror to make some adjustments, and then repositioning my PC so my webcam does not focus on the disarray behind me to be ready for my close up!  Not to worry, you can disable Facebook chat or call requests by going offline.  Click on Chat in the lower right of your screen, then click Options, then click Go Offline.  Clicking on Chat again will enable Chat.  Of course if your computer does not have a webcam, never mind as your video call will be voice only from your end.

Seriously, video calling is a wonderful tool especially when face to face visits are inconvenient. Although I have the new Facebook video calling feature, my Facebook contacts are still waiting, as you may be. When you have a new feature to roll out to 750 million users it takes a bit of time.  I was so anxious to try it out with members of my family, but I was the only one who got the green Get Started button when visiting www.facebook.com/videocalling.  If you don’t find a big green button there, you find a message that video calling will be available soon, and to check back later.

However I did learn a trick!  Now that I have Facebook video calling, when I click on a friend in my chat list,  I see a video icon which I can click to initiate a call.  Alternatively, if I go to my friend’s Profile, there is a Call button in the upper right (between Message and Poke) which I can click to initiate a call.  In order to see the Call option in someone’s Profile, you have to have the Facebook video plug­-in installed and your friend has to be online in Chat.

If you do have Facebook Video Calling, and your friend does not, it will install when your friend accepts your video call invitation.  Your friend will receive a pop up with a message that they have an incoming call from you, with an option to Setup Video Calling or Cancel.  If setup is chosen, as soon as the setup completes, the software automatically initiates a call back to you!  You get a message that your friend is completing the setup and will call you back when setup completes.  It works very neatly and quickly.

If you do not have the Facebook video calling feature, do not click on a spam post to enable video calling, as this is not how Facebook is rolling out.  See this article for more information:   http://mashable.com/2011/07/09​/facebook-scam-warning/.

To find out answers to your Facebook video calling questions you can visit Facebook’s help feature https://www.facebook.com/help/?page=177940565599960.

Of course you don’t have to wait for Facebook or Google+ to take advantage of free video calling.  You can download Skype for free by visiting http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/ .  Click on Get Skype, and then you can choose the download for Windows or Mac, and just follow the instructions on the pop ups to download and install.   Skype is free for a two person video call, and under $5.00/month for group video calling.

If you have not tried video calling yet, I suggest you give it a try.  It is fun, and another step closer to the Jetsons!

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