Mere days after Microsoft made the biggest purchase in its 36-year history—paying $8.5 billion for Skype—AOL is launching a video chat service of its own, called AV. BFD, you say. The difference is that AV doesn’t require a login or software download.
To get started, you simply go to the website: www.aim.com/av, where you say, truthfully or not, that you’re over the age of 13. From there, the site provides a link that you can send to up to three other people that you’d like to invite to chat, and poof, you’re done.
The service requires zero software downloads or special logins. Participants are only required to have a webcam and microphone. See the photo below as I invite my friends to have a grilled cheese sandwich with me.
The creator of the group video chat has the power to remove anyone from the chat, and the service comes with a text box so that users can send typed messages to one another to share things like links. Later on, other features will be added to the service, such as the ability to take a group snapshot of everyone participating in the chat. AV is also integrated with both AIM and Facebook so that you can use either service to invite friends to join you.
The service works using Adobe Systems’ Flash Software, so it won’t work on the iPhone or iPad, but the AIM team behind AV is apparently working on making the service available on other platforms.
Word of AOL’s new video chat service actually leaked last week as AOL tested it out as a service for internal use only, but for some reason or another (possibly due to Microsoft’s big news?), the company decided to make AV publicly available today.
AV isn’t likely to give Skype a run for its money, since Skype has so many other features in addition to video chat (and really, who seriously likes video chatting? Personally, I don’t even like talking on the phone. Talking on a webcam is torture). I’ve used Skype more for making calls and instant messaging than making video calls. Of course, Skype also has the advantage of brand recognition.
AV will likely prove to be a competitor for other video-only chat services, like Tinychat, Stickam, and the infamous Chatroulette.