Tatsuhiko Miyagawa's Blog

Best online app for instant video/voice group chat

August 14, 2012

(This was originally posted to the internal blog at work, but since there isn’t any secret stuff to hide, I’m cross-posting here with a little tweaks)

I work remotely with the team in Tokyo and use hubot standup script for a daily standup and Google+ hangout (on a company Google app network) for a weekly meeting. It works really well, but the non-interactiveness of the standup script on hipchat makes it a little boring, I sometimes want more interaction and feedbacks, and it’s a little difficult on the text chat. I’ve been exploring and considering a lightweight and instant video/voice group chat alternative to replace that, for a trial.

The requirements for such a tool are as follows, in a random order:

  • Instant: should be easy to setup, doesn’t need many clicks and emailing URLs for every meeting
  • Contact list management: no need for registration, or automatic integration with Google Apps domain
  • Permanent group setup: don’t need to pick a member every day for the same meeting
  • Notifications: you can be notified when a meeting begins and you’re not on it.
  • Voice calls: For people who work from home, getting ready for video chat is sometimes annoying. Voice calls could be a better option for a small team.
  • Mobile apps: to join the meeting even when you’re away from computers

    Google Hangout


  • Google Apps integration
  • Works from mobile with the latest iOS and Android app Cons:

  • Too boring and messy to set up. It often happens you setup a hangout and coworker sets up another at the same time, so you have to quit yours first, etc.
  • No permanent URL for a meeting. Have to set up every day
  • Weird behavior of notifications, sometimes sent on GTalk IM but often not
  • Can call phones but that’s only US numbers



  • Easy to setup chat, voice or video
  • Group archives for repeated calls
  • Good notification, as long as the app is launched
  • Works from mobile Cons:

  • Have to add everyone’s accounts to buddy list
  • Group video chat is paid ($8.99/mo~)




  • Easy to setup group video chat
  • Permanent URL for a meeting room
  • No buddy list management Cons:

  • No mobile apps
  • Has email invitations, but no recurring meeting setup
  • There was a little lag in the stream, last time I tried in May




  • Easy to setup group video chat
  • Notifications Cons:

  • Buddy list management
  • No mobile apps
  • Clumsy Adobe AIR app


Traditional conference call service connected to the web app.


  • Use your phone (smart phone or dumb phone) for meetings
  • Easy to schedule conference calls, with recurring option Cons:

  • No web calls, the actual calls is plain old telephony calls
  • US Only

    iChat on Google Apps Jabber


  • Easy to setup Video/Audio as long as everyone’s on Mac
  • Google Apps integrated
  • Notifications (Even better on Mountain Lion) Cons:

  • Mac only. No PC, no mobiles



  • Instant video chat
  • Google App and Facebook integration for buddy list Cons:

  • Have to install client apps
  • No mobile app yet Cons:

What is your best setup for group meeting with remote coworkers? Let me know in the comments!