ooVoo brings video chat to Facebook

One of Google+’s most attractive features is the free group video chat service called Google Hangouts. Soon Facebook users will be able to enjoy a similar experience, although no thanks to the social networking site itself.

Video chat service ooVoo Tuesday introduced an upgrade to its service that bumps the number of participants in free video conference calls from six to 12, and debuts a Facebook application that allows for 12-way video conferencing in high definition.

ooVoo has grown somewhat quietly, reaching 46 million users worldwide as of April 2012. The Facebook application is in response to the demands of users, the company says, who are looking for other ways outside of their mobile devices (where the app got its start) to connect to users.

A nice feature of ooVoo’s Facebook offering is that all users in the chat do not need to be ooVoo members. If the person you’re calling isn’t a member, the application gives the option to e-mail, post, or text a “call link” to allow your friend to join in on the call.

ooVoo also uses Facebook as a new method for logging into its service with its iOS and Android apps, which it says simplifies the registration process and allows users to record and upload video chats to the web. That was previously a premium feature.

Video chat on Facebook launched last July through a partnership with Skype, but only allowed for one-on-one video calling. This made Google Hangouts a more attractive option with multi-user calling, and Google has repeatedly targeted the feature for improvement as it continues to better Google+.

However, ooVoo’s announcement evens the playing field and brings similar video functionality for Facebook. With “hangouts” now on Facebook, does Google+ really have anything left to differentiate it from its much larger rival?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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