Video chatting for newbies

Here's our foolproof guide to getting even the most technophobic relatives and friends online for some face-to-face time.

Video Chat on Your Phone

Now that you're a video-chat connoisseur, you can take it on the road. How can you video chat while you're mobile -- say, on a cell phone? Plenty of services will let you let you do just that; Tango, for one, allows you to video chat with users on other platforms. One thing you may want to have, however, is a phone with a front-facing camera--although you can video chat using a phone's back-facing camera, it's a bit inconvenient.

Here are two video-chat services that you can use on your phone.

FaceTime

If you own an iPhone 4, an iPod Touch, or an iPad 2, you can use Apple's built-in video-chat service, FaceTime.

Using FaceTime is simple: Find the person you want to video chat with in your contacts list, and tap the FaceTime button. Or, if you're on a call with someone, tap the FaceTime button on the call screen. FaceTime by default utilizes your device's front-facing camera, but you can also tap the switch button to use the back camera.

The only real problem with FaceTime is that you must be on Wi-Fi -- not 3G -- to use it. But you do have ways to get around that constraint -- with a little jailbreaking.

Tango

If you don't have an iOS device, or if you own an iOS device and you want to make video calls over 3G or 4G without having to jailbreak it, you can check out Tango. A cross-platform mobile video-chat service, Tango works on both iOS devices and Android phones.

Tango is quick and easy to set up -- all you need is your name and your contact list, and you can start calling right away. For you to call someone through Tango, the other person also needs to have the app installed. You can invite friends via text or email, straight from the Tango app.

Aside from the ability to video chat over a data connection, one particularly appealing feature of Tango is the ability to switch between video and audio during the call.

See? Video chatting isn't nearly as scary as it seems. You can do it from virtually anywhere, too. Now you have no excuse to avoid calling your mother and letting her see your face.

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