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January 16, 2015

Mozilla Updates Firefox Hello

Mozilla has launched version 35 of its popular Firefox Web browser—with a more intuitive version of the free WebRTC-based Firefox Hello video chat service.

Firefox Hello was first released in beta back in October. Mozilla developed it in partnership with Telefónica’s subsidiary TokBox, which it acquired in late 2012 in order to become an early mover in the WebRTC space. TokBox’s video communications platform is the basis of the service.

One of the key benefits of Firefox Hello is that users don’t need an account to make a call. Thanks to the magic of WebRTC, no client or plug-in is needed; users can simply share a chat link from the browser with a Firefox, Chrome or Opera contact to open a call. That link is automatically generated when a user clicks the “Hello” button, which can be added to the browser toolbar for one-click access—all of which helps to minimize use barriers.

However, if there are people that a user connects with regularly, they can sign up for a Firefox account to be able to initiate calls directly from the contact list without needing to share a callback link first.

Meanwhile, instead of waiting in a virtual room for a contact to join the call, a small window pops up that shows the initiator, who can then go on to surf the Web until the other person joins.

As far as joining the call, the person who’s been invited just clicks on the link on the invitation and then the button on the page to enter the conversation. Not in the mood to chat? Users can click on the status menu at the bottom of the window and set it to “Do Not Disturb” to stop all call notifications.

Mozilla said that eventually, it wants to expand the functionality beyond basic chat, too, so that its value proposition and user targets extend beyond the Millennial consumer. Features like screen sharing and online collaboration tools are in the pipeline.

“The use of TokBox’s technology is a part of our strategy to partner, disrupt and innovate to offer digital services that are truly reflective of a modern digital telco,” said Ian Small, CEO of communications services at Telefónica and chairman of TokBox. “This partnership with Mozilla, making the most of our new approach to and capability for digital innovation, is the perfect example of that in action.”

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