Can Video Calling help?

Isolated? In lockdown? No way to connect with family and friends?   Maybe technology can help.

Houseparty in use

Now that many of us have access to excellent broadband in Hambledon there has never been a more opportune time to venture into the world of group video chatting. So here is a my rundown of the ways to use new video calling technology to replace that face to face social interaction that we have lost in the past few weeks. 

The choice is wide depending on your needs, and who you would like to connect to.  I will try and summarise the benefits of each software solution so you can choose what may be right for you.

Houseparty – this is the teen favourite – a smartphone app that is the WhatsAp for video. It allows upto 8 people to be video chatting on your screen at a time, and has options for overlays of fun games to play with you friends.  It is fairly easy to set up, and works on a computer too.  Like Facebook it does nose about in your contacts book trying to create more “houseparty friends”, so turn off those options.

Zoom – this is a powerfull video conferencing app that many families are now using for connecting to their far flung friends. It runs on smart phones, tablets and computers.   It is also capable of handling upto 100 contributors in one video “room” so ideal for Book Clubs, Yoga teachers, impromptu quizes, and business meetings.

Skype – Microsoft’s old dog of video calling that is now cumbersome to use and trumped by other apps. Not recommended.

Facetime – Apple’s app is simple but crucially it is limited to calling between Apple iPhones, iPads and Macs.

8×8 has great simplicity (no apps need be downloaded) so just go to www.8×, create a room and send the link to your friends. They’ll not need to do anything other than copy the link into their web browser and follow the prompt to allow the use of their phone or computer’s camera.  This could be ideal for those with relatives that are a bit wary of technology and don’t feel confident downloading stuff. Additionally you can invite distant relatives who don’t have internet access to join the chat via a phone-call – dialling a free number to join. Now 8×8 also has the power of Zoom with numerous screen share, and chat options, plus it can also simultaneously webstream the live video chat to YouTube (this would be ideal for a virtual church service where most of the congregation would simply watch it live on YouTube as the contributors collectively, but segregated, present to camera.

Over the garden fence – the instructions are simple – go out into the garden and speak to your neighbour but remember the rules about social distancing: don’t mention Brexit nor if you have any toilet rolls in the house.

A Telephone – This once ubiquitous technology is not to be underestimated. Great sound quality but it has very limited video features, relying on imagination rather than electronics.

If any of these alternatives to going out sound attractive to you but are possibly a technological step too far for you then I’d be happy to advise on how to install such software, troubleshooting issues or how to get your broadband working smoothly. Just give me a call on 07977 119935 or email me.

Paul Osborne.  

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Julie Llewelyn
Julie Llewelyn

Thanks Paul that’s very helpful,