While everyone knows about Skyping and Facebook Chat, TinyChat is much lesser known. Just like the other forms of chatting, TinyChat is available across multiple platforms. It’s available both on the web as well as on mobile devices. However, unlike the others, you can do more than chat. You can also listen to music or watch YouTube videos together, and even draw together.
My son and a friend were chatting via their computers. They both had Tinychat going on their computers, and were chatting, watching, listening, and drawing away. I had to find out about this. They graciously let me in on their chat, and it was like a whole world of possibilities that opened up. It would be great for business as well as personal use.
Because I’m an Apple and iOS person through and through, it means the first thing I did was look for an app. I found an app available for both my iPhone and iPad. Opening that, I was presented with a choice of browsing existing chats, starting my own chat, or joining a chat. To join the chat with my son and his friend, I could either type in the room name or accept an invite from Facebook or other similar social networks. The problem with trying to connect through the Facebook notification was that it sent me through the Internet instead of through the app. Safari can’t handle the TinyChat website because it’s most likely Flash. Because I was trying to go through the iOS app, I had to manually type in the name of the room.
It turns out because it’s a flash-enabled website, that much of the functions on TinyChat that make it so great to use weren’t available on the website. The only function that was available here was just the video chat. There was no texting, drawing, YouTube, or sound files I could view or listen to here. While I could have switched to a flash-enabled browser (I like Photon) and enjoyed all the functions, I decided to switch to my Mac to make it easier for review purposes.
I rejoined the chat this time from the web on my Mac. This time I had all the functions available to me, as I would have using a flash-enabled iOS browser. Opening it on the web, I could see the same three videos before of everyone talking, but I could also “see” if they were typing in text. It also notifies you when someone joins or leaves the room, just like other chat rooms.
One very unique feature of TinyChat is the Whiteboard. This is a board that anyone in the chat can draw on, even simultaneously. You can jot down notes for a job you’re discussing or just have a lot of fun on it with your friends. It has all the standard drawing tools on it – lines, text, pencil, eraser, etc. It opened up in a separate window, so instead of flipping back and forth, I moved the window out to a separate pane so that I could see it and my video chat at the same time.
Ever watch a YouTube that you just can’t wait to show your friends? Now instead of emailing or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, you can watch it together on TinyChat. Search for a video from directly within Tinychat, and when it opens up, it does so so that everyone on the chat can see it. Laugh together! Songs can be opened up the same way to also be enjoyed together. Additional options are going full screen and taking a snapshot of the people in the chat.
There are just so many possibilities available with TinyChat. I can see using this during chats, especially with a larger group of people. It just isn’t the most iOS friendly because of the Flash video use, but it can still be used, with the right browser, or with limited function in the app.
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