I love to chat and the Mac is the place to chat. Chat is free. Mostly. How many ways can you chat on your Mac without spending money.
Apple’s Mac OS X comes with iChat AV. Skype comes with telephone connections and PC users. What else is there?
Did I mention that I like Skype and it’s free? I once called it the future of the video iPhone. If only I could get Steve Jobs and AT&T to agree with me.
The fact is, the Mac is loaded with ways to chat, starting with OS X’s built in iChat AV. Now at version 3 for Tiger, iChat AV is the coolest of the chats, Mac or Windows.
Chat chat, audio chat, video chat, multi-channel audio and video chat. What’s not to like? Well, there’s that whole “who can I talk to besides Mac users?” thing, right?
iChat mixes well with AOL’s AIM client for Windows. The only problem is that AIM audio and video for Windows PC users might as well not exist.
First, there’s that whole thing about needing a Windows certified something or other just to configure AIM to do audio and video. It works. Sometimes. But it’s not a pleasant sight.
What else is there? Well, Skype, of course. Mac or Windows and tens of millions of users. Remarkably, the Skype for Mac version is very good, works well and plays nice-nice with the Windows PC version.
Skype has the added benefit of connecting to real live telephones from your Mac or PC. So, I can sit in San Diego and Skype to Mac360’s Kate MacKenzie’s phone in New York. It’s free to call from Mac to Mac or to PC using audio or video.
Skype also charges about $30 a year to connect from Skype to a real phone, but it works.
Skype and iChat AV are similar, except that Skype has better connectivity to PC users.
There’s also Adium which lets you mix and match between all the online chat types such as AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber and so on. No video show, so you can chat naked without worry.
Or, you could use the individual utility from each of the major chat services, such as Microsoft, Yahoo and friends. Adium seems to work well, considering the price and the fact that it wants to be all chat to all chatters.
It wouldn’t be fair to leave out another member of the iFamily. This one is iVisit, which is a real time, multi-party audio and video conferencing tool for both Mac and PC.
There’s a Mac and a Windows PC version and both are free. If you want to use it, it’ll cost you. iVisit has a bewildering array of server licenses, enterprise, personal, education, hosted domains for video conferencing, account blocks, hats, mouse pads, mugs, and more.
I just want to chat—type, audio, video. How hard can that be? Apparently, it’s can get hard, and become expensive.
Network equipment giant Cisco just bought WebEx for a few billion dollars, and WebEx has all kinds of online meeting solutions for video conferencing. WebEx in the news listed articles in Smart Money, Business Week, Inc. Mag, Selling Power, Forrester Research and others.
Somehow I don’t think I’ll like the price tag on a product from any company that’s worth $3-billion to another company.
iSpQ (pronounced “eye speak”) is a video chat and webcam community. All the folks in their photos look prettier or more handsome than the folks in my neighborhood.
What you get is webcam software, instant messaging, visual mail, and a bunch of other folks online in the iSpQ community. Caveat emptor. Popular choices are “Friends and Family” and “Couples Room”, and “Adult/Gay Chat.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The problem with all these chat, instant message (is there a difference?), audio and video conferencing solutions is that they don’t speak well to each other. Or, in the case of AOL’s AIM, doesn’t even speak well with itself.
There needs to be a standard for connecting and there’s not. Everyone that has a chat this or a chat that does their chat their own way. That’s wrong. There’s not even a defacto standard such as Apple’s FairPlay DRM.
For now, I’m sticking with iChat AV because it’s cool and easy to set up multiple video conferencing, and Skype because it will actually allow video connections to Macs and PCs and dial out to real telephone numbers.
Got a problem with audio and video chat? You think that chat and instant messaging are the biggest time wasters of 21st century technology? Share your perspective in the Comments section below.