Google+ Hangouts brought back the “group” in video chat. Agreed, there were other group video chat apps before Google+ Hangout, but with Google, it just translates to instant appeal. It may be a point of argument but group video chats find more applications in business settings. Personal chats tend to be more…well, personal. But a tool is what we make of it and group video chat is no different.
From video chat rooms that can be used to touch base with friends and plan our events, to using them as real-time learning tools, uses are many. What will you use these four free and web based group video chat tools for? Try them out with your friends and let us know. (image credit: cogdogblog)
Note: The list talks about – as mentioned in the title – the best free and ‘web based’ group video chat tools, meaning the ones which do not involve installation of software of any kind. So don’t be surprised if you don’t find tools like Skype in here.
This is the Google service which successfully managed to re-grab the ‘buzz’ (pun intended) and gave Facebook a run for its likes. Google+ Hangouts is seamlessly integrated with your Google account and enables you to have face to face video chat with up to nine people. You can video chat as a group with specific circles in your Google+ or bring in anyone else with an invite. You have to install the Google voice and video plugin. After that you have to just click the Hangout button to start a chat sessions.
The hangout becomes a virtual room and members of your group can join and leave as they please. You can play games, watch YouTube videos, and share your desktop screens too. Recently, Google introduced the Google+ Hangouts on Air which allows you to broadcast live to your Google+ circles and YouTube channel.
Do remember that the normal chat in other Google products is slightly different than the Google+ Hangout chat.
Meetings.io is another neat group video chat solution that lets you chat face to face with five people at a time. Meetings.io is ideal for holding multi-party video conferences online as you can schedule a conference in advance by giving your meeting a title, set a date and time, and also its duration.
Invite people with an email or SMS (and very soon by phone too). People can join and leave anytime without it affecting the conference. The meeting room gets a unique URL which you can reuse at some other time. You can set the room as public or private. You can also share a Notepad to take down minutes or any other notes, share files, and also share screens.
Tinychat is one of the quickest ways to create group video chat rooms quickly. You can create your own room and invite others to join or alternatively join any other room that’s already on air. You can send across your chat room’s URL so that others can join in. You need to register to start your own chat room or authenticate yourself when joining someone else’s. The Room Directory is arranged according to category. Also, Tinychat allows you to embed your chat rooms onto your blog or website.
You don’t need to register to join Sifonr. So that probably makes it faster than Tinychat when it comes to setting up a group video chat conference. You just have to enter a topic and designate the chat as public or private, and you are on. You can send the chat room URL to others and unlimited people can join. Custom rooms can also be set up with a few clicks. Custom rooms have a few more options like password for admittance, a stream publishing option, and file sharing. You can also embed your chat room in a blog or website.
LiveMinutes has a polished interface and the free collaborative video meeting app gives you a few features like screen sharing (great for viewing presentations together), annotate documents in real time, and of course video chat while you are about it. In the end, the app generates meeting reports for you to look over. I won’t talk in detail about it here as we have already checked it out with a full length review here – LiveMinutes is an Amazing (and Free) Web Conferencing Solution.
Which one of these five would you pick? Is it going to be the The Big Brother called Google+ Hangouts or the smaller but relevant players? Let us know.
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