Here's all you need to do to try it yourself. First, you need Firefox 34, of course. Once you have upgraded or installed the software, you should see a "Hello" button over on the far right side of the browser's top bar:
If you don't see this button, as I didn't, you may have to perform the following steps, as documented in a Firefox help page:
1. Open the "Customize" section of the browser to add the "Hello" button to your menu bar:
2. Drag the "Hello" button to the browser bar or to the drop-down menu.
Now, in my case, that still didn't work and I had to use the additional trick mentioned in the help article of going to http://about:config and changing "loop.throttled" to "false" (simply by clicking on that setting). After restarting Firefox I was then able to go into the Customize window and add the Hello button to the browser.
Initiating A Call
Once the Hello button was visible I just had to click on it to get a URL that I could pass along to someone:
I posted it, somewhat ironically, into a Skype chat where a number of us who are "early adopters" of VoIP tech hang out... and Dick Schiferli (of Pamela fame) soon clicked the link. The call request window appeared in the lower part of my Firefox window:
The first time we tried Dick was signed in to a Firefox account but I was not. We got an error and the call couldn't connect:
Now, I don't know if this was a transient error caused by so many people trying it out... or if this was an issue with the "guest" access, but a few minutes later when I was also signed in Dick and I had no problem connecting:
And there we were talking!
In a good test of cross-platform interop, Dick was using Firefox on Microsoft Windows 8 and I was using Firefox on Mac OS X. The quality both in terms of voice and audio was great. We did notice one interesting difference between the platforms. On OS X I had an arrow that let me "pop out" the Hello window into a separate window that I could then resize and move around my screen:
There was no way for either of us to simply click a button and make the conversation go "full screen", but with this pop-out window I was able to resize it to take over most of my iMac's screen.
Interestingly, one of the things I found missing from our experience was any form of integrated chat. I wanted to share with Dick a link to a screenshot of what I was seeing on my computer and wound up sharing that link through a Skype chat.
I don't know that I need chat... but I found it curious that I would just expect chat to be available. Given that Skype and Google+ Hangouts both offer this, my expectation does make a bit of sense.
Given that I just created my Firefox account today, I couldn't test the use of contacts as documented in the Mozilla blog post about the beta of Firefox Hello. I look forward to doing so. I also want to go back and try it again when I am not signed in to verify that guest access does indeed work.
All in all I was quite impressed with the ease and quality of this first public release of Firefox Hello!
More info about Firefox Hello and Firefox 34 in general:
- Firefox 34 arrives with Firefox Hello video chat, revamped search, and Chromecast tab mirroring from Android
- Firefox Gets an Instantaneous Video Chat Feature, Better Search Bar
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