While there are tons programs for video calls, a new favorite of mine is AV by AIM. While I use Google Talk and Skype for chatting with friends and family, I hate having to add people I do not know too well to my contact list. Having one-time disposable chat rooms with video support on hand is often useful. This is one of the reasons TinyChat was a personal favorite, but video quality was never too great and the service has become rather bulky.
AV by AIM is probably the simplest video calling solution I have come across. To get started, you just need to visit AIM.com/AV in any browser with Adobe Flash 10.3 and hit the “Start a video chat” button. The video from you web cam will appear on-screen in just a few seconds. The website generates a unique short URL to share with others. Up to a total of four people can participate in a call at once. This is a bit less than the ten person capability of Google+ Hangouts, but it is at least better than Skype which charges an expensive monthly fee for group video chat.
The interface also has a link to invite friends to join through AIM or Facebook as well. A settings button at the top allow for configuring your microphone and video camera too. While in a conversation, users can pause their video or mute audio. Although AV by AIM defaults to a portrait view, there is a button to switch over to a higher quality wide-screen resolution at any time. Of course, there is support for text-based chat as well. Messages from each person overlay directly above their window.
While I probably will not use this for video calls with people I know or work with, it is great to have bookmarked for certain scenarios. For instance, it could come handy to potentially interview a candidate for a job. College students could take advantage of this to work on group projects with classmates they do not know too well. Since Adobe Flash is essentially the only restriction, AV by AIM will run in just about any recent web browser on Macs and PCs. Even if you do not plan to use this, feel free to give it a test drive. After all, there is no need to deal with registration!
Links: AV by AIM