The Internet has made it very easy for us to experience media from around the world. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to watch media at the same time as other people over the Internet. Perhaps you and your friends on Skype want to watch and discuss a video at the same time. There are such things as video-syncing websites, where users enter a virtual room and load up videos that sync with everyone. However, a very efficient service has sprung up quite recently, and it’s called Rabb.it.
Rabb.it’s goal is to make it easier to experience the web with your friends by giving you access to a web browser hosted on Rabb.it’s servers. You can then invite friends to watch your Rabb.it stream and use the Rabb.it browser to direct everyone to the media you want to show.
Is Rabb.it a Syncing Site?
Of course, this sounds nearly identical to other syncing sites out there; you make a room, invite friends, then share videos with one another. What makes Rabb.it so special, however, is that it’s not really a syncing site at all!
When you use a syncing site, it embeds a player into the browser of everyone in the virtual room. That player then syncs up with the host’s player, so everyone watches at the same time. There can be issues that arise from this, such as the players not correctly syncing, or one user’s player malfunctioning in some way. It also means you can’t sync a video unless it can be embedded into other websites, which makes watching videos from certain websites hard, if not impossible.
Rabb.it is different because it’s a stream of a web browser which everyone watches together. As such, it’s more like if one person controlled a web browser on their PC, and everyone else watched over their shoulder. There’s no syncing issues or player errors because everyone’s watching the exact same player.
It also means you can use video players that don’t support embedding, which makes Rabb.it a very valuable tool for sharing video players that are hard, if not impossible, to sync with other people. Rabb.it themselves list Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll as good examples of video players that would be very tricky to sync but become incredibly easy to share by using their service. After all, if you can load a player within a browser, you can share it over a Rabb.it stream with friends!
How to Use It
To use Rabb.it, first head to their website, then click the orange button on the front page. You don’t need to log in to use Rabb.it, but you can if you want to.
You’ll be taken to a new screen.
You won’t have access to a browser just yet. Rabb.it shows you some already-broadcasting channels, so you can use an active cast instead of making your own. If you want to make your own channel, just enter the URL of the site you want to visit into the search box at the top left. You can also enter a search term if you want to query Google for something.
Hit Enter and you should see a stream of a browser displaying what you entered in the bar. Feel free to control it! Even though it’s a stream of a browser, you can still click on buttons and type through the stream. The browser works just like any other web browser, so you shouldn’t find it too foreign to use.
When you’re ready to share with friends, just copy and paste the link in your address bar to them. When your friends click the link, they’ll find themselves in your room, watching your stream with you. They won’t be able to control the browser, however, so don’t worry about people hijacking your stream.
At the bottom, you’ll see a row of controls:
The far-left button toggles the launchpad. After you’ve entered a URL to load, the launchpad will still show as a bar along the bottom of the screen. Clicking this button will hide and show the bar.
The remote control button allows you to give up control of the stream to someone else. When given up, this icon will turn white, and other people can pick up the remote by clicking it. The person who picks up the remote will have control over the stream. When someone picks up the remote to use it, a remote icon will appear on their icon, so you’ll know who’s using it.
The volume slider allows you to tweak the audio levels of media playing in the browser.
You can click the LD letters to change the quality of the stream. You can select either Low Definition or High Definition.
Finally, the stop sign with the rabbit icon in it stops the cast for everyone.
Share and Share Alike
When sharing streaming media with friends, it can be hard to sync all the players at the same time. Using Rabb.it, however, allows you to only need to load the player once, so everyone can watch along without interruption.
Do you and your friends use syncing sites or similar services? Let us know below in the comments.