If there was one thing that I wish I could snap my fingers and make a wish for, it would be Skype for Chromebook. I don’t know whether this is Google trying to keep all video chat under its “Hangout” umbrella, or Skype not seeing the customer need for a Chrome-compatible web client yet. I personally think it’s the latter considering how easily MS Office and Apple iWork function in Chrome without any hassle from Google. Nevertheless, Here are the two best ways to get around this annoying inconvenience.
1. Google Hangouts
As hard as I try to find better ways of doing things than by using Google’s stuff–ironically considering it is a Chromebook afterall–I haven’t found anything that works as well as Google Hangouts. It isn’t without faults. It has frozen the video a couple times, and those promising “hangout apps” that are supposed to let you share whiteboards and files and such are just confusing and glitchy. Well, there is one app that works really well! It’s the one that lets you put cat ears or a mustache onto the person you are chatting with, We all know how useful that is, especially during a business meeting with a prospective client. “Sorry, I can’t figure out how to show you the first quarter numbers, but look! I put flying birds over your head! Isn’t that great?!”
Seriously, there are two features that keep this at the top of the list. The first is the way that is handles video conferencing. It’s easy to get everyone together, and when a person talks, Hangouts recognizes that and give them the screen. This actually works! I had doubts until I saw it in action. It’s like the video chat version of raising your hand before you speak. I like it. The second is how it gives bandwidth priority to the most important part of a chat: the audio. If the bandwidth slows down too much for a chat, the video will cut, but it will leave you with lag-free talking. This is a much better way to go than, say, Facetime, where the sudden drop in bandwidth will cut your chat off completely, which sort of brings me to number 2:
This may either sound obvious or completely irrelevant, but if you have a client who doesn’t want anything to do with using Google or is just used to Skype, then you can keep it easy for them by just using your smartphone. I use mine and set the phone on my Chromebook next to the screen. No one would ever assume it was anything other than my computer. As an added bonus, my entire screen is free for notes and live research! In fact, this feature alone makes me more apt to go this route (including using the Hangouts for iphone app) rather than use my Chromebook for the video conference. Those mere 11 inches of screen space are precious real estate that I like to keep for myself, even during a meeting. And while I’m at it, I like my bandwidth too. On your phone, you can switch to cellular data if things start getting clogged up.
The bottom line is that, though there are other apps out there that can do video chat like Oovoo or MashMe, Your clients probably want to use Skype or Hangouts. You don’t want to put up any unnecessary barriers between you and that meeting. After all, getting people in a meeting is hard enough. Why try to sell them on downloading yet another chat tool before you can meet? My best luck has been these two things: stick with Hangouts; it’s solid. Or just go with Skype on your phone; stick it next to your screen and no one will ever know.
If you need any other help with your Chromebook, I have this post as well. It covers the best Word Processors available on the Chromebook right now: