Sunday, December 14, 2014

Firefox Hello Review

Say hello to “Firefox Hello” – you’re probably wondering what the heck is Firefox Hello. Mozilla upgrades their Firefox internet browser approximately once every six weeks. The latest on upgrade, Firefox 34, was released on December 1, 2014. This stable rapid release included a few new features, including several improvements and bug fixes.

One of the new features that Mozilla introduced with Firefox 34 was Firefox Hello. It is a WebRTC-based online communication service that allows users to voice and video chat with others using a WebRTC-enabled browsers. WebRTC, also known as, Web Real-Time Communication, is a Application Programming Interface (API) that enables voice and video communication from browser to browser.

One major benefit of using WebRTC is that you don’t need any additional third-party software to be downloaded, or plug-in to be installed. Furthermore, you don’t need to have an account to use Firefox Hello. The other advantage is that you can use Firefox Hello with other WebRTC-enabled browsers like Google Chrome and Opera. This online chat service is being offered via the OpenTok platform.

How to Use Firefox Hello?

Firefox Hello is quite simple to use. In order to start initiate communication with another party, you need to click the Firefox Hello (FH) button, which you will find in your toolbar. Once you click the FH button, it will generate a unique URL (or web link). You will then have to copy/paste this link into your browser address bar, and email the link to the person whom you wish to communicate with.

When the person clicks on the unique link, they will get a “Conversation Request” box with options to start communicating with you. It provides option to either voice and/or video chat. If you don’t see the FH button on your toolbar, check the section below to learn how to activate and set up Firefox Hello. You can check the video below to see how to use Firefox Hello to communicate with your friends and family.

Pros and Cons of Using Firefox Hello

Personally, I’ve used several types of online voice and video communication services. The one I use most frequently is Skype. However, with Skype, you need to ensure that both parties need to have the software downloaded and open a Skype account (or have a Hotmail/MSN email account). FH is still in Beta, so we can expect to see changes and improvements in the coming FF rapid release upgrades. 

The other good thing is that once the unique Firefox URL is generated, you can use that link specifically for certain people like your family, work or specific individuals. In the upcoming upgrades, we will be able to customize the URL and give it specific or recognizable names that make it easier to remember. 

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to have an account to use Firefox Hello, however, if you have a choice to open an account, one benefit of doing so is that you can create a contact list which makes it easier to communicate with others who are using Firefox. Unlike Skype, FH doesn’t support communicating with multiple people or have a group chat simultaneously. 

Also, unlike Skype, Firefox Hello doesn’t have the share-screen feature that allows you to share your screen with the party you’re communicating with.

How to Activate and Set up Firefox Hello?

If you’ve already upgrade to the latest version FF34 and you can’t find the Firefox Hello button on your toolbar, then look for it in the Customize mode. If you still can’t find it, you will have to change your Firefox preferences. Specifically change the value in “loop.throttled” preference from “True” to “False”. When I first upgrade to FF34, I didn’t have the FH button on my toolbar nor in the Customize mode. You can check the video below to learn how to activate Firefox Hello.

Have you used Firefox Hello? If so, feel free to share your comments and feedback about this new online communication service introduced by Mozilla.

In 2014, Mozilla introduced many new features, made several improvements, and increased overall browser performance to their Firefox web browser. You can check my full Firefox 34 Review.

Credits: Firefox logos and screenshots used under Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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