One of the real benefits to being a tech guru in a government organization is the opportunity to play with new toys, try new applications, get my fingers into new systems, and if I’m not always ahead of the curve (it is a government institution, after all), at least I get to see what’s coming around the bend.
Mac users have umpteen dozen ways to communicate with each other, with Windows users, with anyone connected to the internet or the ubiquitous telephone system. Email, text message, FaceTime, and Skype; even the plain old telephone call can be initiated on a Mac. How about an intercom system that goes Mac-to-Mac, or Mac-to-PC?
They Laughed At Me
I subscribe to the tactful, ‘There are no bad ideas, but only ideas which should not be tried.‘ An intercom on your Mac? Is it a bad idea? Or, an idea whose time has come? You be the judge.
The app that performs the intercom magic is cleverly named, Desktop Intercom. It’s relatively inexpensive by itself, but if you want to use it to talk to someone else by using the microphone and speakers on your Mac, each user will need a version of Intercom installed; but still, it’s not expensive.
Intercom works simply enough. Once installed on each device, Mac or PC, Intercom gives you a one-click option to Talk or to Listen to any other device connection via Intercom. The sound is somewhat limited by the quality of the Mac’s speakers (better than a telephone) and microphone (also better than a telephone) but is surprisingly good.
Intercom discovers other Intercom users on a local network so configuration is next to zero though some Mac users may need to tweak firewall or network settings. The app displays which Intercom users are online at the moment, including the Mac or PC name, and the online status.
So far, in our testing, the only issues we’ve run into with Desktop Intercom pertain to Mac and PC settings in the firewall, not with the app itself.
In the age of more ways to communicate electronically than face-to-face, what good is an intercom on a Mac when a cell phone is in your pocket and there’s a telephone on your desk? Knowing a little about how the government works, the Listen button could be used to, well, listen (a euphemism for spy) to employees while they’re working. That might open a few cans of worms, but if quick conversations between employees are a requirement, you could do worse than Intercom.