While there are many great video chat applications available, it can be difficult to find the right one, especially if you are running Linux. While technological considerations such as features and stability are important points in your decision of which video chat to go with, technological considerations are not the only factors. One of the major considerations for video chat has to do with choosing a platform that is not only supported by your own computing environment, but one that is also supported by your friends, relatives and coworkers with whom you will be conversing. Here are a few of your options for video chat applications that you may want to consider as you keep the technical and social factors in mind.
Google Plus Hangouts and Google Voice
Google Plus Hangouts is the new video chat application offered by Google’s social network portal. Google Plus aims to directly compete with Facebook, offering better security features, easier customization settings, a better user interface and more cool functionality all around. Google Plus Hangouts is a really great tool for talking with your Google Plus friends and coworkers over video chat. While Google Voice has some great features on its own for video chat, Google Plus offers a ton more functionality. Google Plus Hangouts offers the ability to speak to up to twelve different people in the same voice chat session, with the ability to zoom in on any one at a time. There are some fun little features such as the ability to watch YouTube together over a voice chat and full integration with Google Docs so you and your chat party can update shared documents together in real time.
The downside to Google Plus Hangouts, however, is that it does require the other person to be using the Google Plus Hangouts app and, more importantly, they need to actually be a Google Plus member. This could be a social deal breaker right now for many people as Google Plus is still a growing platform that is up against the king of social media portals, Facebook. For these reasons, it is a little easier to use the simpler Google Voice web application. Google Voice is already included with your Google Gmail account and is completely available online, so the likelihood of finding people in your social network that you can talk to over this more common platform is much more likely.
Skype For Linux
Skype is the old tried and true Voice over IP (VoIP) solution and has a long established history with Internet chat via voice and video. This is good from a social perspective as you will most likely find many people, especially less technical family members or corporate contacts, who already have a Skype account. It is not as flashy as Google’s offerings, but it does provide basic functionality and a few extras like a shared whiteboard. Technically, it is a little out of date for Linux and may be a bit glitch, but it gets the job done without too many problems, and is usually available in most repository.
For the more technical Linux Heads out there, the Gnome Empathy project provides a great platform for connecting to several social media video chat applications. It does this by connecting into the low level application programming interface (API) protocols such as Microsoft’s MSN, AIM, Facebook, Yahoo!, Google Talk and IRC. It even provides support for some older or less known protocols such as Netware’s Groupwise.
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