If you've been avoiding Skype because you don't want to hand over your personal information to create a Skype account, Mozilla has come out with an alternative: Firefox Hello. Designed to enable voice and video calls directly from your browser, Hello is built into the latest version of Firefox, released Tuesday.
According to Mozilla, Firefox Hello is "the first global communications system built directly into a browser." It's one of three new features to come out as part of Firefox 35.
The latest stable release of the Firefox browser also includes a "Share" function that lets users integrate their favorite social networking sites into the browser, as well as a beta version of Firefox Marketplace, an app-testing tool for developers.
In the Works: Screen Sharing, Collaboration
First offered in beta testing last October, Firefox Hello works with any WebRTC-enabled (RTC stands for "real-time communication") browser. That means it is supported by Chrome and Opera as well as by Firefox.
Here's how it works: Users start by clicking a smiley Hello icon (found either on the Firefox menu bar or in the customization panel) and then selecting, "Start a conversation." They can then send the unique URL that appears for that conversation to whoever they want to talk with. Once the other person clicks that link, the user hears an audio alert and sees the Hello icon turn blue. After that, the conversation is live and online.
All this takes place without either person having to create a special user account, such as those required by other video chat tools like Skype. However, to make direct calls -- as opposed to linking via a unique conversation URL -- both users need to have a Firefox account.
Developed with Mozilla partner Telefónica, Firefox Hello is just getting started, according to the announcement that accompanied the release of Firefox 35.
"As we look to expand Firefox Hello into a comprehensive tool for communicating over the Web, we'll be testing new features like screen sharing and online collaboration so people can be more productive and get the most out of their video calls," the announcement from Mozilla said. "This could include things like planning a vacation, shopping online or playing a game while on a video call together."
One-Click Social Networking
Since putting it out in beta last year, Mozilla's development team has already tweaked Firefox Hello to address feedback from early users. For example, it reduced the number of steps needed to initiate a call.
Firefox Hello users can save and name their various conversations to make it easier to return to friends and associates for future chats. This enables users to go back to past conversations without having to create a new unique URL for each session.
Another new feature of Firefox 35 provides one-click access through the browser interface to a variety of social media sites. After activating the feature and choosing which social networking sites to connect to Firefox, users who click the "Share" icon can access Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and other sites directly from the browser menu bar without having to leave the Web site they're currently on.
Posted: 2015-03-02 @ 3:21pm PT
I'm looking for how to opt out. Shame to dump Firefox.
Posted: 2015-02-24 @ 2:38pm PT
Real time conversations that can be saved? I'm a language teacher and I am so happy that this is now available simply and cheaply. (University programs for RTC recording are costly.) I'm going to try it in my high school class tomorrow.