Audio and Video Chats
It is already mentioned in the opening Panel. iChat 2 introduced Audio only and Video chats. (Compared to some other applications, Video here means moving pics with sound). iChat 3 adds the ability to Chat to 3 other Buddiies in a Video chat or 9 other Buddies in an Audio Only chat. This does push up the specs needed somewhat for 4-way Vide chats to happen.
In iChat 3 Audio only or Video of these can be done on a 1-1 basis. It can be to any other Mac on your LAN (Via Bonjour/Rendezvous) as well as over the Internet to your Contacts (Buddies) using AIM Valid Screen Names. This includes other iChat users, AIM 5.5 or higher on a PC (Until AIM 6.5 when AIM changed the Video codecs of their PC app.) and PC users using Trillian Pro.
You can also start or join chats with Multple Buddies if your Mac's Proccessor is up to it along with your Internet Conenction. You need at least 384 k as both Upload and downloasd speeds and at least a G4 1Ghz dual processor to Host a 4 way video chat
Apple released the External iSight at the same time as iChat 2 and this was a firewire camera that had fixings for most screen type available at the time. As many camcorders of the time had DV output they also tended to come with Firewire ports as well so these were also a source of external cameras. There were also a rash of other Firewire webcams (see the bottom of this page) around at the time as firewire was the only thing really fast enough to get a picture in enough frames into a computer, Things have changed on that front with USB 2.0,
DV Converters, whether firewire or USB 2.0, also work as "Camera" input devices so you can use older analogue Camcorders or stills cameras with TV output signals.
The External iSIght is no longer sold by Apple. This seems to be for several reasons not least being a European Directive about disposing of items after their usefulness and some of the components in the iSight did not meet this. See here for more info on the Camera. It
is not clear if the Internal iSights were part of this or came as a result of Apple not being able to sell the iSight in Europe.
If you have means to connect two cameras iChat will automatically create an extra drop down in the Video pane of the iChat Preferences for you to select the choice there.
The menu to the right of Buddies will be called Audio if you don't have a camera or the OS can not see it. Otherwise it will be called Video. In here whichever name it has are two items to Enable or not the Camera and Microphone. as the OS way of turning them On and Off. (It is more of ignoring the signal for either rather than ON/Off control specifically). Clicking these toggles them On or Off dependent on current state - a tick present is ON.
It is possble to get some USB cameras to work whether USB1.1 or USB 2,0 devices as long as you can get Mac Drivers for them. (it also neeeds an Add-On Utility). Howvere at the 10.4.9 update Apple introduced a Generic USB Video Class (UVC) driver into the OS which works with any USB 2.0 Camera (you have to have a USB 2.0 POrt on your Mac) that is "Vista Certified" and some others. (It will not make a USB1.1 camera work).
The External iSight had a Microphone inside but as many Macs also have Internal Mics this is not so much of an issue. Also any USB 1.1 Mic will be recognised by the OS. The Volume is controlled in System Preferences > Sound > Input tab. That is to say if your Buddy says you are too quiet you can turn yourself Up by adjusting the sound into the Computer from whichever Mic you have selected in the System Preferences.
If two or more Input devices for Audio appear in System Preferences > Sound, iChat itself will have a drop down to also match the choice. Both have to be matched AND the item in the Menu to the right of Buddies (Audio if no Camera and Video if you have one) has "Microphone Enabled" ticked. With some external Mics you also have to make sure any On/Off Switch is On.
Many Macs have a LIne-in socket for a 3.5mm jack. However this is for Preammped input and will not work with many Mics.
Showing Video and Audio Able Buddies in the List
By default this is On. It is set in the View Menu with "Show Audio Status" and "Show Video Status".
These will display those Buddies with a relevant Green icon which can do Video and those that can do Audio Only.
Staring a Chat
There are several ways of doing this.
- From the Buddies menu after highlighting a Buddy in the List.
- Right or Control Clicking a Buddy will bring up a similar Contextual Menu over the Buddy List.
- Or you can just double click the green icon.
- A further method is supplied by highlighting a Buddy then using the relevant icon at the Bottom of the Buddy List.
Items 1, 2, and 4 will let you select an Audio only chat with a Video capable Buddy if you wish to do so.
You can do One way Video Chats if one end does not have a camera but is better started by the end that has the camera. Audio will flow both ways for this.
iChat 2 can do all that iChat 1 can.
iChat can join the AIM service with an AIM valid name from either AIM itself or from @mac.com (or it's newer replacement MobileMe Names).
It can chat to other Macs (Buddies) over Bonjour/Rendezvous on your LAN.
It can send FIles in Text chats as well as "loose" by dropping them on Buddy's name in the Buddy List.
It can send Picture as Files by dropping them on a Buddy or have them displayed in the Chat.
Text can be changed as to Font and Colour as presets or by altering the text you are about to Send.
Display a Status Message - additional text to replace the Available or Away defaults. The keystrokes that make smileys can be typed and will display as the icon at the other end.
iChat 2 adds
2 way Audio Only chats to iChat Users, PC users with AIM 5.5 through to AIM 6.1 or Trillian Pro.
2 way Video Chats to the same group of Buddies if they also have a camera.
1 way Video chat with Audio both ways if they don't have a camera.
A Pop out drawer where Groups can be added. Buddies added to Groups are displayed by turning a Group off and leaving just those you need or want at the time. Buddies can be added to more than one group but count towards the total number you can have, although they do not appear in the Buddy List more than once.
iChat 3 adds
Better integration of Groups and their ordering in the Buddy List.
The ability to use Jabber Servers including Googletalk - although this does mean three Buddy Lists can be on display.
Makes it easier to switch between multiple Screen Names of the same type.
Cosmetic changes to the Preferences Panes making them somewhat more Logical.
And, of course, adds the ability to chat to up to 3 other people in a Video chat or 9 others in a Audio Only chat. If a Buddy only has a Microphone they can still be invited to a multi- Video chat but they count as one Video Buddy as they are getting your and any other Buddies Video feed.