Appear.In is the perfect video calling app for someone trapped in a burning building, without a phone, who needs to quickly get help via their laptop…and doesn’t like using Skype. OK, so that’s a little convoluted, but it makes two important points about Appear.In.
1) It is lightning fast to set up, entirely anonymous and disposable, and offers video calling that’s as clear as a bell on even poor performing wi-fi or 4G networks.
2) You’d only use it if all your other video options were unavailable, you prefer no frills calling, or you hate Skype.
The bottom line is that Appear.In has all the potential of WebRTC, but few of the frivolous or functional features you’d find on most other free video calling apps–we wouldn’t complain about using it, but it wouldn’t be our first choice, either.
Let’s Talk, Now!
Here’s an actual timeline of my very first attempt to make a video call to a friend using Appear.In.
6:45 PM – Type Appear.In into search bar and navigate to site
6:45 PM – Hit Start in the Create A Room box (under the randomly assigned title of Open Hedgehog)
6:45 PM – Entered chat room
6:45 PM – Hit Copy Link
6:46 PM – Emailed link to a friend (who was awaiting my link)
6:46 PM – Messed about with features and was underwhelmed
6:47 PM – Stuck cat mask sticker on face
6:47 PM – Friend joined room
That’s it. Two minutes. See if you can get it done any quicker.
Of course, that’s just the temporary setup. You can make a room your permanent home by clicking on Login and handing over either an email address of phone number and receiving a special code.
And it’s worth claiming your own space. You can customize the name of the room, and therefore the URL, you can customize the background, and you can lock the room so as to screen anyone who tries to drop in. Oh, and you also get the power to boot out anyone whose system is acting up, or who you just don’t like.
The good news is there is more to this service than just speed. The bad news is there really isn’t much more.
Secure and Anonymous
There is one prominent feature I didn’t mention. You can share screens, after downloading an extension (which is a little cheeky for WebRTC), and show people in your chat (it allows up to eight) your desktop or current project.
The rest of Appear.In’s good qualities are better classified as functions–not features.
I had the misfortune of trialing the app in a 4G network black spot that reduced my coverage to the minimum, but Appear.In soldiered on remarkably, even if the picture was a little grainy.
My link between an Asus X550C and a Samsung Android phone held firm, and no one was booted out of the room, until I decided to try the aforementioned kick out feature–it works.
The other function worth noting is that none of your video or messages (it also has messaging!) are stored on Appear.In’s servers, and all communications are encrypted, so there’s no risk of any videos or messages somehow reaching an unintended audience.
All this makes Appear.In a robust service that will have you video chatting within minutes. However, you’re going to want something more feature-packed, and able to handle more guests (although it’s true you can jump from a maximum of 8 to 12 people by signing up for the premium version), should you be looking for a long-term alternative to the big-name free chat services.
Welcome to WebRTC
Appear.In is a nice demonstration of the potential WebRTC has in store for browser-based video calling. You can see straight away how quick and seamless it is to launch a call of perfectly functional quality without having to download any plugins or apps, or create an account and hand over your social media and personal details (even if you’re not concerned about giving away personal info, is there anyone who likes making yet another account for something?).
There are higher-end versions of this WebRTC functionality, but Appear.In is enough to get you thinking native video–if this is the wave of the future, we’re happy to ride it wherever it goes.
Perhaps down the line Appear.In will add a few more bells and whistles, like call recording, breakout chat rooms, and file sharing, but for now it’s just a quality, reasonably fun way to instantly chat with anyone you know who also owns a computer or smartphone.