Like Skype, but easier
March 3, 2015 1:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for something (probably a website) that allows video conferencing similarly to Skype, but does not require installing any software and is very easy to use.

In short, I would like to have be able to have video calls with multiple family members (so 3+ participants on the call) who are older and not very tech-savvy. The family members in question can and do surf the web and use Gmail alone, but installing software like Skype on their own would probably be a challenge.

Is there a website that offers the functionality of Skype or another type of service that I could suggest we use to be able to do this?

Not all of these people have smart phones, so this needs to be a PC-based solution. It does not need to be free, but does need to be relatively inexpensive.
posted by wansac to Technology (16 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried tinychat?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

If they are using Gmail, Google+ Hangouts? I would have said the biggest hurdle for non-tech-savvy people would be making a Google account, but it sounds like they all already have one. Other than that, I think it is pretty straightforward.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2015 [10 favorites]
posted by jeffkramer at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2015

Have you seen before? I mostly use it for syncing a video stream between myself and long-distance friends (like group watching Netflix), but you can also use it for video chats. There's no space limit either and you don't even need an account to use it.
posted by sciatrix at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mozilla just released Hello, a video chat that works in the browser with no plug ins, and no account is required. Not sure if it supports 3 way chats yet though.
posted by COD at 2:03 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not quite an answer to your question but something you might find really useful for family who are not tech savvy. I use TeamViewer all the time for helping people do computer stuff remotely. It's free, easy to install and once it's there, I can log on to their computer and I can see their desktop and they can see me moving my mouse around. It means I can either show them how to do something (like how to work Skype) or I can do stuff for them (like set up their Skype or Gmail account).

It's safe. TeamViewer generates a unique password each session and once everyone logs out, you need the other party to give you the new unique password before you can see their computer again.

I always let them other person know I can see anything they can see on their desktop so they should close anything personal.

I'm nothing to do with TeamViewer, just have used it a lot for work. Available for both Mac and PC.
posted by stellathon at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

And they do have a 'meeting' function but I've never used it.
posted by stellathon at 2:12 PM on March 3, 2015 has probably the lowest bar to entry - follow the link, no installs, no sign-up, handles up to 10 people.
posted by Paragon at 2:38 PM on March 3, 2015

Yeah, hangouts is built right into Gmail. So if they are already going to the webpage for their email, doing a video chat is dead simple.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:52 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Firefox has Hello built in now which does video chat

Firefox Hello
posted by wongcorgi at 3:50 PM on March 3, 2015

posted by Hermione Granger at 4:06 PM on March 3, 2015

Google hangouts is pretty straightforward if you're the one initiating the chat.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:53 PM on March 3, 2015

Google Hangouts is actually awesome for this. All you need is a Google+ account (which is lame, I know) but I think that's easy to set up if you're already on Gmail. Hangouts is by far the best free video chat program I've used.
posted by deathpanels at 7:30 PM on March 3, 2015

According to this review, Hello doesn't support group chat at this time, but since you would have to install Firefox version 34+ for the origin call, and everyone else would have to have browsers installed that are not Internet Explorer or Safari, not sure it would fit your criteria for not installing any software.
posted by juiceCake at 7:46 AM on March 4, 2015

I use hangouts and it works well for the most part and since everyone has a gmail account, no additional signups are required
Three cautions:
1. Requires downloading hangout plugin
2. Stutters on lower bandwith
3. Uses Flash so cpu usage can be really high for older computers

Iam going to try out Rabbit and Appear tonight
posted by radsqd at 9:04 AM on March 4, 2015

3. Uses Flash so cpu usage can be really high for older computers

Are you sure? I was in a google hangout this morning in Safari on my Mac, which doesn't support flash as far as I know, and it seemed to work fine.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:29 PM on March 4, 2015

« Older How to look at listed condo units for rent WITHOUT...   |   Name this book about different cultures Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.