Last week, Mozilla began rolling out Firefox Hello to all users of the latest version of its browser. The new service, which has been in beta since mid-October, is based on WebRTC (Real-Time Communications) and allows audio and video streaming without the need of a third-party plugin. While the caller needs to use Firefox to start the conversation, the other person only needs a browser that incorporates WebRTC. Currently the Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers support WebRTC with Microsoft is working on adding support for Internet Explorer.
Start a Conversation
To start a conversation, click the Firefox Hello icon in your toolbar. If the icon is not in your toolbar, as in my case, you can add it there. Click the menu icon in the upper right corner of the browser window and choose ‘Customize’. In the ‘Additional Tools and Features’ window, drag the Hello icon to either your toolbar or the menu. If you don’t see the Hello icon and you have updated to the latest version of Firefox, you may have to check back in a few days. Mozilla is gradually rolling this feature out to make sure they can handle the extra traffic.
Once you click the icon, click the ‘Start a conversation’ button and a chat window will open. To invite someone to chat, either click the ‘email link’ button to create an email with the chat link or click the ‘Copy link’ button and send the link the other person by other means (text message, Twitter, etc.). Once the other person clicks the link or pastes the URL in their browser, their chat window opens and boom, you’re talking. You can find step-by-step instructions on the Mozilla Support site.
Pros & Cons
On the negative side, Hello is pretty bare-bones right now; you can turn your camera on or off, mute your microphone, hang up and that’s it. You can only contact one person (no group chat) and no screen sharing capability. I’m hopeful that Mozilla will add these capabilities and more features over time.
If you use Firefox, give Hello a try and tell us what you think. Do you think this could eventually replace Skype and Google hangouts? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below, on the Geek Beat forums, or on your favorite social media site.