Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Here’s how to start using Facebook Video Calling now!


Facebook launched a bunch of new features Wednesday, including group chat, a redesigned chat user list, and the biggest of all, video chat via a partnership with Skype. It’s this last one that will have the biggest implications for most average Mac users.

I used Skype video calling approximately three minutes after it launched (with pal and web developer Wes Bos), and it worked perfectly. Installing the plugin on my iMac required a tiny Java app download that’s virtually foolproof to use, and making and receiving calls is as simple as clicking a few buttons and confirming you want to share video.

Facebook’s new video calling feature is specifically designed for each browser and OS combination out there. Unfortunately, Facebook didn’t account for those people using Lion (You’ve got a week Facebook).


The fix is easy however: Just change your Browser user agent to something a little more traditional and you are video chatting.

For instance, in Safari, hit up Safari 5.1-Mac and you are golden.

Skype’s Mac client also isn’t winning over any fans in terms of its design, mainly because that design feels unnecessarily cumbersome. Facebook’s Skype integration is the opposite of that: It’s invisible, blending in with Facebook’s web presence without drawing too much attention to itself or changing the Facebook experience that users are comfortable with.


For both the above reasons, I think Facebook Video Calling will unseat Skype as the video chat option of choice for Mac users, at least when it comes to consumers. Pro users might need the advanced Skype features offered through the dedicated Mac app, but some of those might make it to Facebook eventually, too, it was suggested at today’s press conference. And things like calling out to landlines and cell phones might be better handled through Skype’s smartphone clients anyway.

Facebook has announced Video Calling and group chat, along with other improvements to Messages. Video Calling will be available to everyone over the next few weeks, but if you don’t want to wait, you can get it now.

To start video calling now, visit this page on Facebook and click Get Started.

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