With help from apps like iVisit, face-to-face video messaging and conferencing is poised to become a part of daily life. It's a free unified communications solution that combines a host of tools--all via peer-to-peer network technology. The only thing missing is an adequate Help file. To take full advantage of iVisit, both parties must have the iVisit software.
A Windows-style wizard makes installing iVisit a snap. You must register online to use the iVisit network, but it's free and quick to do. You can then invite contacts into the iVisit network via a Web form--they'll need to sign up too. We like the program's basic black IM-style interface, which has a display window and simple icons labeled People, Places, Log, and Home, the latter leading to a settings page. The program's numerous features include AV teleconferencing, chat, and instant messaging with mobile device support, recording capability, useful business-oriented tools for collaborations, presentations, and document sharing, and more.
Getting people to join yet another network will be worth it for the benefits of having everything work together, but you may need to provide your own instructions. This beta release lacks a Help file or assistance accessible from the interface, which was a disappointment. We found that the program's Web page offers only FAQs and some instructions for the previous release, which differs from this version. Links to an "iVisit Help Desk" showed a grainy Webcam view of a guy lying on his couch. While it's easy enough to figure out, iVisit does a lot and even a quick-start guide would lessen the learning curve.
Although iVisit is a work in progress, it shows real promise for merging daily communications in one simple interface. It's listed for all versions of Windows from 2000 to Vista, though we tested in Windows 7 and it worked fine. And the only price you'll pay is spending some time on your own learning iVista's ins and outs.