In engineering terms, increasing the speed of a vehicle means streamlining it. When you’re designing things that fly and sail, it’s obviously advantageous to jettison anything that is going to add weight and drag.
Video conferencing vendor Lifesize is following the same formula with its recently released browser-based video platform Lifesize Go. The WebRTC-powered app for desktop and mobile uses your device’s web browser to launch video calls in a second without the need for downloads, codecs, or subscriptions. The trade-off, in this case, is functionality. Almost all the features that make Lifesize’s flagship video platform worthwhile are sheared off here in return for flexible, fast, and free video calls.
Of course, that’s the point of browser-based calling. It is supposed to be sleek and quick, enabling face-to-face video connections with nothing more complicated than a web browser and a webcam. What’s more, Lifesize has executed the idea well. It still offers group video calls and screen sharing, and while Go isn’t going to satisfy all your video needs, it isn’t supposed to–this is futuristic video calling for a time when we’ll see video links in all our consumables.
How to Use Lifesize Go
The central advantage of browser-based calling is that it doesn’t require a subscription, free or otherwise. Everything you need to make a video connection is already available on your desktop or mobile (we’ll focus on the smartphone version here). The technology taps into shared, open-source protocols that let apps connect with each other through web browsers. The goal is to create seamless links between apps, devices, and, ultimately, people–all without the need for third-party codecs. This means that you can instantly video call anyone who can open a link within email or text.
The Lifesize version works like this:
- Search for “Lifesize Go.” You’ll have to search on a compatible browser. Lifesize recommends Chrome or Safari.
- Give yourself a screen name and add an email address. Just to prove how little commitment is required in order to use Go, you don’t actually need a functional email to start a call. We didn’t have any trouble with firstname.lastname@example.org (of course, that is NOT standard Lifesize operating procedure).
- Send a meeting link to a friend via SMS, email, or chat and wait for them to hop into your private meeting room.
- Start speaking face-to-face!
Browser-based video calling is that simple. Lifesize Go may not even be the fastest form of WebRTC calling. Our trial of browser-based pioneer Appear-in got us chatting away within two minutes…and that included messing around with stickers and masks.
Lifesize Go will accommodate up to eight in a group video chat, and while it isn’t much to look at in aesthetic terms, it works well as a face-to-face communication portal. Browser-based calling is all about instant, seamless connections. Apps like Go look a lot better when you start to consider how they can be applied.
Clean and Clear Group Video Calling
The simplicity of Go means there’s not much to review. As explained above, it is extremely quick and easy to set up, and once you’re in a chat room, there isn’t much to distract you from a free-flowing conversation.
The only real feature of the smartphone version is screen sharing–the stripped-down functionality is reflected in the three-button user interface that offers nothing but audio and visuals toggles and the screen share option. The screen sharing works well, however, and allows the now-standard option of sharing either your current screen’s contents or a specific app or web window. As usual, the content is displayed in the chat window where your face would usually appear.
The rest of the Go experience is up to you. You can share anything that can be displayed on your device, so get creative and add multimedia, streaming video, and whatever other content won’t get you sued for copyright infringement.
And that’s it. Go provides a clean, clear, and in our experience, reliable video link using Mac, PC, Android, and iOS–including a connection between any combination of the above. It obviously pales in comparison to Lifesize’s main subscription platform in terms of features and group call size, but this is video calling stripped to its essence in the name of speed and universal access.
Essentially, it’s not what Go does that counts, it’s what you can do with it.
Video Calling Everywhere
You may be wondering why anyone would bother with Go if the main Lifesize platform is so much better? The answer is that Go is for everybody regardless of their video calling preference. You can only use Lifesize proper to connect with other Lifesize members, and the same applies to connections using any major platform, like Skype, Zoom, or the social callers WhatsApp and Instagram.
Go and its browser-based brethren, on the other hand, link any endpoints that have the right web browser. This means you can stage a web meeting without having to know what apps your meeting participant has downloaded. Just send them the link and they’re in.
As such, browser-based video calling is often used to create DIY video conference connections on a web page and to provide universal customer service access. There are a number of companies offering free browser-based video portal starter kits that allow you to add video calling to your own website. We managed to set up just such a video calling portal in 15 minutes, and we’re told that’s pretty slow!
Browser-based calling operates on the same theory as the communication apps that link Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The same browser-based connections that allow your fridge to warn of a milk shortage or your car to request service can also let you make a video call without having to give your contact details to a tech giant.
In that regard, Lifesize Go is still a little ahead of its time. Eventually, it has the capacity to act as an old-school telephone network where you can reach anyone for free as long as you can send them an email. Actually, it works that way now–all we have to do is spread the word.
Note that while this site is sponsored by Logitech, reviews contain the writer’s own opinions and are not influenced by the views of our sponsor.