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push to talkIn the age of Yahoo IM!, Skype, Google Chats, instant messaging and video chat are hardly a big deal for most computer and Internet savvy users. But the cross platform application, QuicklyChat aims to make video connections more instant but with a feature for warding off interruptions when users are busy.

QuicklyChat works almost like a walkie-talky, but with video, in that users can keep it open while at their computers, and when a co-worker wants to talk it’s a simple matter of inviting a user for a chat, rather than say walking to his or her office down the hall.

How It Works

QuicklyChat works on Mac and PC, and requires a quick registration. You can communicate with anyone who is also running QuicklyChat, even outside your office or Internet network. Though QuicklyChat has a small text box for text messages, its main purpose is for video chats.

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When you want to chat with someone, you double-click on his or her name in your buddy list. A small video window, with a text box, will appear at the bottom-right of your desktop. To close or end a chat, use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl-Shft-1, or just click the red button on the widow itself. If you want to add another co-worker to an existing chat, double-click on that co-worker’s name in your buddy list and she will be joined in.

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Similar to Yahoo IM!, when you launch QuicklyChat you can specify if you’re available or unavailable for chatting. If the person you’re trying to contact is unavailable, you can right- or Control-click on his or her name and select to be alerted when the person is Online. This feature is part of Yahoo IM and Skype, but QuicklyChat goes a step further with what is called SmartStatus.

Using SmartStatus

With conventional audio and video chat apps you have to manually change your availability status, but with QuicklyChat’s SmartStatus your status changes based on what you’re doing on your computer.

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If I definitely don’t want to be interrupted while writing in say MarsEdit, I set the SmartStatus for that application to red. However, when I’m reading and responding to emails my status might yellow or green. The cautionary yellow status may be one that you want to define for your co-workers, such as yellow means only contact me if the communication is really important. Or it could mean that you’re working but you can answer a quick question.

When you launch QuicklyChat all the applications you open on your computer will be assigned a status. But you can change that status by clicking on the color button itself. As you click, the color will change until you hit the desired one.

You might also notice that QuicklyChat also includes a useful little productivity feature which actually tells you how much time you have spent in an application. The timing doesn’t affect your status, but it makes me wonder how the timing could be used yo automatically change the status of a user.

Also, if a co-worker you’re trying to contact is not at his or her computer, you can control-click on that co-worker’s name and select an availability status: “Alert when Green or Yellow,” or “Alert when Green.” The alert consist of an unobtrusive small Growl-like box.

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QuicklyChat doesn’t include screen sharing, and it would be nice if the program included a menu bar access so that the buddy list could be tucked away off the desktop. I’m sure the developers are working on upgrades like this, but in the meantime QuicklyChat is definitely an application you will want to check out if you’re not already using something similar.

QuicklyChat was released this August and will be available for free in beta for a couple of months or more. Let us know what you think of the program. And for other instant messaging ideas, check out our directory of articles here.

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