Firefox Update Includes Built-In Video Calling

If you've been avoiding Skype because you don't want to hand over your personal information to create a Skype account, Mozilla has come out with an alternative: Firefox Hello. Designed to enable voice and video calls directly from your browser, Hello is built into the latest version of Firefox, released Tuesday.

According to Mozilla, Firefox Hello is "the first global communications system built directly into a browser." It's one of three new features to come out as part of Firefox 35.

The latest stable release of the Firefox browser also includes a "Share" function that lets users integrate their favorite social networking sites into the browser, as well as a beta version of Firefox Marketplace, an app-testing tool for developers.

In the Works: Screen Sharing, Collaboration

First offered in beta testing last October, Firefox Hello works with any WebRTC-enabled (RTC stands for "real-time communication") browser. That means it is supported by Chrome and Opera as well as by Firefox.

Here's how it works: Users start by clicking a smiley Hello icon (found either on the Firefox menu bar or in the customization panel) and then selecting, "Start a conversation." They can then send the unique URL that appears for that conversation to whoever they want to talk with. Once the other person clicks that link, the user hears an audio alert and sees the Hello icon turn blue. After that, the conversation is live and online.

All this takes place without either person having to create a special user account, such as those required by other video chat tools like Skype. However, to make direct calls -- as opposed to linking via a unique conversation URL -- both users need to have a Firefox account.

Developed with Mozilla partner Telefónica, Firefox Hello is just getting started, according to the announcement that...

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