If you're missing friends and family far away, and can't bring them together in the physical world, you can at least get your loved ones together in the virtual world.
I interviewed Rajesh Midha, vice president of corporate and business development at ooVoo regarding its video-calling service. OoVoo offers free video calling from your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can have a six-way video call for free and up to a 12-way video call if you upgrade to a premium account.
"No one has to be alone for the holidays," Midha said.
If you want to preserve the special memories of the video chat, ooVoo allows you to record your video calls. You can e-mail these video files to others or post the video on Facebook or YouTube for wider distribution.
If you want to participate in a video chat, you will need a webcam (many laptops come with webcams) or a mobile device equipped with a camera, such as a smartphone or a tablet. "OoVoo is not just multiparty, it's multi-platform," Midha said.
If you want to use ooVoo on your mobile device, you can download the ooVoo app here:
The ooVoo app works on mobile devices over WiFi, 3G and 4G (LTE) networks. If you are calling and using data instead of WiFi, be sure that you don't exceed the cap on your data plan; you will avoid unnecessary surprises on your next cellphone bill. (See Mind the Cap!)
To use ooVoo, go to the site, sign up for an account and download the software to your computer. You can add contacts by connecting ooVoo to your e-mail, Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. OoVoo also allows people to participate in a video chat through a web browser without downloading ooVoo software or signing up for an account.
Before you place a call, make sure to check your webcam and microphone under Settings => Audio & Video => Check Your Video and Audio Settings.
To place a video call, click on a contact and the video call will start. You can add more people to the call by clicking on the toolbar at the top of the screen => Add to Call. Anyone without a webcam or smartphone can still participate in the call by telephone.
To record a video call, make sure you are connected and then click on Actions => Record, and the video call will be recorded. The other participants on the call will see a pop-up notice at the bottom of the screen notifying them that the call is being recorded.
To test ooVoo, I participated in a five-way video call with members of the ooVoo team, including one participant, Laura, who connected using her Android phone. Connecting was easy and the feed from all five cameras was clear, including from the Android phone. You can see the video here.
If you want an ad-free experience or multiparty calls with up to 12 participants, check out ooVoo's premium plans. These plans give added benefits such as minutes for voice calls to mobile phones in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and China and landlines in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, China and Israel. The Plus Plan is $9.95 a month, or $89.95 a year, and gives ad-free video calls and 200 minutes of voice-calling time each month.
The Pro Plan is $29.95 per month or $269.95 per year and gives up to 500 minutes of voice-calling time per month. More details on the Plus and Pro plans can be found here.
OoVoo has a Facebook page with 1.5 million followers that allows you to meet other ooVoo users with mutual interests. Midha gave the example of someone who is interested in tech and international travel being able to find someone with similar interests for a video chat on ooVoo. You can find ooVoo's Facebook page here.