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Google Voice has added an embeddable widget so that you can now call a user directly from a website or blog. I just added mine on the right side of my blog here, just below the Meebo widget. If you care to call, you’ll get my voice mail where you can leave a message that will be transcribed to email and sent to me immediately. What does this all mean?
This is just one more step Google taking dominant control of communications in all modes. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook has openly stated that he’d like to see Facebook be the #1 form of communications on the planet. While Facebook may be one of the best (and easiest) ways to share words, links, and pictures… a few areas they are not so strong in is voice, SMS text, and even webcam (Facebook applications aside). GTalk and Gmail have had webcam abilities for a while. Goolge Voice brings Google one step closer than Facebook in the are of SMS texts, which are completely free and unlimited, and Voice in the form of phone services that are way ahead of what your mobile carriers are giving. They also work right on top of your carrier’s services in the form of Mobile Apps and more… hence the reason Apple denied the Google Voice app from the iPhone store and the reason the FCC is currently looking into thier actions.
I was speaking with a friend the other day who has an iPhone, a limited texting plan, and an unlimited data plan. He was very interested in getting the Google Voice app for his iPhone so that he could send unlimited SMS text messages through the app and under his unlimited data plan. Obviously, this is something AT&T anticipated and a reason they presumably pushed Apple to block the app.
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I have written about a log of new streaming video tools on my previous blogs which can now be found under the category live broadcasting.
Two new sites launched this week taking that “conversational” approach to the next level using Twitter. Camtweet and Twitcam. Read more here.
The Justin.tv app Camtweet requires invites to participate in early testing, has a really ugly UI, and when has a chat room viewers sign into with thier Twitter ID/Password. When someone Tweets from your page, it includes a link to your show. Good idea! The rest of the site lacks any other bells or whistles.
TwitCam is powered by LiveStream (formerly Mogulus.com, I talked about in the Live Broadcasting 2.0 post) and works about the same. Log in with your Twitter cred, links and more… Plus a very pretty UI. I’m surprised however that LiveStream does not supply users with more tools or features that are in the full LiveStream accounts. For instance, the ability to play YouTube videos or show a ticker at the bottom of your screen (regular features on LiveStream). I am guessing that LiveStream is just trying to get users to broadcast first, but pulling in Twitter users and will move forward from there.
If there’s one think I’m surprised about… it’s that the TwitCam name isn’t already owned by King TWIT (This Week In Tech) Leo Laporte.
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There are many people enamored with Skype or Yahoo IM for video conference calls, but with some new web 2.0 apps we may see some users moving towards browser based services instead. I’ve already mentioned the usefulness of Stickam.com when it comes to video conferencing, broadcasting that event, and even recording it. For a better form of asynchronous video messaging check out Tokbox and Seesmic.
This is as easy as it gets. Login, touch a button and your sending video messages all from your browser. You’re notified by email if your recipient watches your message or sends one back. You can even make public video messages – tokbox’s way of adding a twitteresque feature that can compete with up and coming sites like 12seconds.tv. The video quality at talkbox looks great and if you’re really not into the browser-ball-and-chain then you can download the desktop client which runs on Adobe Air.
- URL as contact info (like an email or phone number – anyone with the URL can call you)
- Embedable widget (for places like MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, and more) allows one click calling for other users to call or message you.
- Unlimited number of conference callers (according to the FAQ – untested by me)
- 15 minutes of video message time
- API for devs
Seesmic seems to be drawing an international crowd to publicly discuss virtually anything in a threaded video conversation. Essentially, you can make a public video post recorded using your webcam and mic (flash) – a question perhaps – then, users who speak your language can respond with their own videos – hopefully answers to your question.
Here’s an example… This user says ‘show us your favorite iPhone app‘.
- Your having a conversation with the world!
- Send video messages – converse privately
- Embed videos (not threads) easily
I’m not sure there’s much for me on Seesmic, but there are a lot of people spending a lot of time there. I expect Seesmic to gain popularity for the webcamming crowd. Although it’s been a while since YouTube installed a ‘Reply to this Video’ button, it still doesn’t feel like many folks are using youtube for threaded video conversation like you see here.
I could see this site used in a communications class: Ask a question on Seesmic. How did users respond? Perhaps this could even help in the creation of an ePortfolio by posting a thread of former employers and colleagues who have great things to say about you. The video document resume of the future! Feel like adding your two cents? Respond to this video below here:
In either case, it seems the idea of video calling and public broadcasting is finding a crowd. How far it bleeds into popular culture and what effect it has on education as younger students familiar with the technology enter higher ed remain to be seen.