Setting up Google’s Gmail video chat tool
How to install and set up the best video chat tool currently available.
Why use this sort of software?
For many live conversations, ordinary telephony or an audio-chat link is sufficient. Adding video to the call, which can done using “video-chat” software, may well add significant meaning to the conversation, however. Our faces convey feelings that are communicated in no other way, and having visual contact with the face of a conversation partner can give one ready access to this often valuable information.
There are several options to consider when trying to set up a video-assisted telephone link over the Internet (commonly referred to as audio-chat if it’s audio only, or video chat if it’s audio + video). Skype is the one most people know about. Microsoft also has one that is part of their Messenger chat service (I may not have this name quite right – I almost never use Microsoft products of any kind any more).
It’s been my experience that Skype is not quite reliable enough to depend on for video chat, and I say this after having experience with a number of different Internet Service Providers in a several locations (which would tend to rule out those two factors as cause of the problem).
Google offers a free video-chat add-on to their Gmail service, and I have come to rely upon it. On call after call, I’ve found that it works well. It’s now the only video chat software I use.
You need to do the following:
1. Get a Google account (Gmail comes with it)
In a browser connected to the Internet, browse to Create a new Google Account, and follow the instructions.
2. Access GMail in a browser
Once your Google account is set up, browse to your Gmail account.
You don’t need to actually do anything with it involving email. We just want access to its chat function, and specifically it’s video-chat capability. To do that you will need to install a little more software – additions to your Gmail functionality. It won’t take long.
3. Install the Google Talk and Video chat plugin
This is a bit confusing, and Google doesn’t make it totally clear:
- Google talk is a chat and computer to telephone connection plugin. It works quite well, and is definitely worth having. If offers free calls to US and Canadian users to anywhere in the US and Canada. Lose your cell phone somewhere in your office and home? Call the phone number using Google talk, and follow the ring!
- Google video chat adds to Google talk a video chat capability (assuming you have a video camera/mike plugged into your computer).
My advice is to download both – first Talk, then Video chat.
You may wish to consult detailed user information on Google Talk, as it explains how to add/invite people to your Google contact list, so you can communicate with them in Gmail, and the Talk and Video plugins.
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