YouCams: Video chat + social networking

YouCams lets you chat with video, text, and voice. All within an embed. Neat.

We saw a lot of work and business tools for conferencing and collaboration come out of Under the Radar last week, but what about when you want to have fun? YouCamsis a slick little embeddable video, voice, and text-chatting tool that's a mix of fun and business. The entire app runs in Flash, and users can jump in and join a discussion without the need for registration. The tool is aimed at social network users (mainly the MySpacecrowd) as a way to communicate and interact with one another. Something that will likely get them blocked from the service, like what happened to competitor Stickam.

If you've used Stickambefore, the Webcam functionality is a little similar. And by a little I'm being generous, because YouCams is much more full featured. There are two tiers of service, both free and paid. Basic registration is fairly generous, giving you voice, text, and video broadcasting privileges. Upgrading to the premium level turns YouCams into a full-on conferencing tool, allowing you to video chat with three other users at the same time, and own a personalized URL with the option to host your own conferencing room.

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An interesting addition to YouCams is integration with YouTube, and a large variety of widgets. These float around on the interface, and require no extra installation. It feels a little bit like YourMinis. The Space Invaders widget in particular nearly kept me from finishing this post. Likewise the YouTube integration is well done. Video links pop up in a conversation bubble, and won't start until you click on them. Like the widgets, they float around and can be resized on an ad-hoc basis.

There's also a social networking component integrated in the service. Users trade 'stars,' which act as credits to buy into various features. It's an interesting take on user involvement, although I'm not sure it'll catch on until users have a real reason to get involved. Maybe giving them access to premium content like music or movie downloads would be a good hook. In the meantime, casual chatters will likely get a kick out of YouCams for its slick interface and ease of use.

I've embedded a YouCams module after the jump. It might not run if you're using Firefox. We've been in contact with the YouCams team about this, and they're on it.

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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