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Ask Slashdot: Simple, Cross-Platform Video Messaging? 115

DeathToBill writes: I spend a lot of time away from my kids (think months at a time) who are aged 3-8. I keep in touch with them by Skype, but the young ones are not really old enough to concentrate on it and we're often in quite different timezones, so it's not often it can be very spontaneous. We'd like to have some way that we can record short video messages of things we're doing and send them to each other. It needs to have an iPad app that is simple enough for a three-year-old to use with help and for a five-year-old to use without help; it needs to have an Android or web client, preferably one that doesn't require an Apple ID; it needs to be able to record a short video and send it to someone. As far as I can tell, iMessage requires Apple kit (there is an Android app but it sends all your messages through a server in China...) and Whatsapp works on iPhone but not iPad. What can you suggest?
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Ask Slashdot: Simple, Cross-Platform Video Messaging?

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  • You can post them on Facebook and share them with your family.
  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @02:27PM (#50637413) Homepage Journal

    What can you suggest?

    If you get divorced, make it a top priority over career to stay in same town as the children. Phone and video is no substitution for your presence in their lives.

    • If you get divorced, make it a top priority over career to stay in same town as the children. Phone and video is no substitution for your presence in their lives.

      Not always an option especially when the ex moves with children 800 miles away to a town without even a red light much less no jobs

    • Military. Maritime. Oil drilling. Film-making. Scientific research. Not everyone works in the same comfy chair in the same office every day, and some of them make excellent money - a cousin worked support staff on the Alaska pipeline, spent a 3-month stint each construction season and made a year's worth of money each time. The difference is, it used to mean being out of touch for the whole time you were away, and now you can have *some* contact.
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      He didn't state anything about being divorced, and the situation described sounded more like military deployment than divorce.

      • by Roblimo ( 357 )

        I've been divorced and I've been in the army.To me it sounds more like military or job absences. But we're just guessing....

    • It baffles me why you would wait until divorce to take an interest in your kids' lives. Are they just a point to score over your ex-wife and useless until then? Do you expect your wife to tell them you're an utter bastard the second you're divorced but sing your praises beforehand?

      • It baffles me why you would wait until divorce to take an interest in your kids' lives. Are they just a point to score over your ex-wife and useless until then? Do you expect your wife to tell them you're an utter bastard the second you're divorced but sing your praises beforehand?

        Who said anything about waiting until divorce to take interest in kids' lives? Who said anything about degrading spouse?

        Sometimes, life does not give you a choice in the matter in being separated from your kids.

  • Skype (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2015 @02:30PM (#50637451)

    I believe Skype has the capability to leave video messages if the recipient doesn't pick up. I've never used it, but I've seen the option pop up before.

  • Seems the obvious solution.
    Or upload to youtube + share the link over email or whatever chat client you are using.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I was thinking Youtube too, but I've never played with the permissions to attempt to limit who can view a video.

      Youtube's main advantage is that it runs through a web browser, so local applications are not necessary to watch. If the children or the current guardian are not technically savvy it's a lot easier to explaining logging-in to Youtube and then clicking on a link in an e-mail than it is to explain downloading and installing third party software.

      Never thought I'd see my self typing that as usu
      • OP could create a YouTube channel. If you make the videos private (i.e. only your login to YouTube can see them) and then have your kids use the same login you'll be the only ones that can see the videos. You can also publish the video but make them "unlisted" which anyone could technically find but they'd need to figure out the link.
  • Just email video clips back and forth? Or upload them to youtube, and send links via email. You can make videos private on there.
  • just like whatsapp, et al but does work on multiple devices (inclusive ipad) per account.
    • Winner. Cross-platform, free, respects privacy, text, audio, video, photos. Oh, and stickers. Kids love stickers.

  • Vine works for short videos: []

    Otherwise, I thought Google Hangouts partially supported this feature for short videos.

  • by wkwilley2 ( 4278669 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @02:44PM (#50637577)
    If you already use Skype, you might as well take advantage of the video message feature it has.
  • Seriously, there are a billion ways to solve this and none of them involves using an 'app'. Take the videos and just straight email them. Set up an FTP server. Setup rsync between two sites, use HTTP, use SCP, use sneakernet (mail SD cards). The point is the tools are all out there waiting for you to pick them up, they simply dont always come in a shiny wrapper called an 'app'.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:17PM (#50637817)

      Yea, FTP, rsync and SCP are all great fucking suggestions, and clearly things than can easily be taught to a 5 year old. They all work great on an iPad too. "Use HTTP" is probably the best suggestion, and definitely a complete solution to his problem. Just other day my mom wanted to send a video file to my nephew, and she asked me how to do it and I said "Hey mom, use HTTP" and she was like "Oh, great, thank you, all my problems are solved now".

    • Why did you stop reading after the first sentence in the summary?

      He wants a solutoin useable by his 3 and 5 year old kids!!!

      So, you volunteer to teach the 3 year old how to make a Video of himself and attach it to an email and sent that to his father?

      I could likely make him an easy to start AppleScript that does that all :D but can you "script" Windows or Linux good enough to give the kid a simple Icon to click to do that?

      Btw: sneakernet this is note "mail" this is carrying a medium from one desk to anothe

      • You set it up. I use all those techs to feed video to my family's houses. They all have standard consumer (Apple TV, Fire Tv etc) stuff, and i feed services to them using the basic tools we have been using for DECADES. Stop looking for all in one solutions and build one out of the vast and rich toolset we have. Its not rocket science to set up an HTTP site and throw files on it or put it on an SD card and add it to their itunes library.

        I use sneakernet as a catchall for loading data onto physical media
  • DropBox? GoogleDocs? It is just a file to be saved in some saved location right?
  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:05PM (#50637747)

    Step 1: Create a private Youtube channel and post your videos there.

  • GroupMe checks every box you listed.

  • Skype... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FingerDemon ( 638040 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:10PM (#50637763) Journal
    I think someone else already mentioned it, but Skype allows you to record a video message. Why not use that? Read a book to your kids, tell a joke, etc.
  • Virtual Presence Robot
  • Wouldn't video messages recorded with whatever your phone's MMS client take care of this?

  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:23PM (#50637853) Homepage

    My kids are 7 and 10 now. We have tried video calls with them over the years, as well as trying to use video conferencing with the grandparents.

    It was a shit show every time. Besides the inevitable delays, jumps, crappy audio, etc, the kid was just more fascinated with seeing themselves on the video and then trying to out-compete the sibling for attention, then we had to shush them, then they got mad, would hit the other one, then the devolved into a giant mess. Then the video would get broken up and we'd just revert to using the phone because the audio had dropped out again.

    My suggestion would be to have the responsible adult on the other end living with the kids record something, then email it to you, put it in Dropbox, etc. Expecting a three or five year old to do this is asking too much, even with the best UI imaginable. My ten year old could certainly handle something like this, the seven year old would be iffy at best. But if their mother was holding the phone it would definitely be OK.

  • by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:26PM (#50637877)

    It needs to have an iPad app that is simple enough for a three-year-old to use with help and for a five-year-old to use without help;

    Ask the state to help. After all, if you're leaving a three year old with a five year old, the state will get involved at some point soon.

    Or, if I misinterpreted and there's some sort of adult supervision, have the adult press the damn icon on your iPad.

  • by nwf ( 25607 )

    I believe video sites like Vimeo let you have a private area where you can post videos. I get Kickstarter projects doing that all the time. Then the kids can view the video after you pass away, potentially, to remember you.

  • Jitsi is just like skype, but XMPP based. Choose some server to create accounts (many of the big emails account also have XMPP support). As it build with java, works in all systems and it supports very well video and voice.
    Android jitsi version is still under developement, but it should work already

    for simply saving video messages, use the http://www.videomessageonline.... [] (webviewer) or the [] (via email), but you can always save one locally, using guvcview, cheese or other webcam tools and

  • Share a folder Read Only, drop your recordings in it?

  • by nnet ( 20306 )
    Voxer is a phone/tablet app that does audio/text/photo mesages, now does short video.
  • Hangouts works on every platform I've tried it on, has Chrome apps on many platforms, native on others. It supports group video/voice chat as well.

  • Take a look at the Ily Family Phone. They say that three-year-olds can learn to use it. Coming in 2016 from around $200. See []
  • Easy as iMessage to use, works on the devices you mentioned (though no web client), and has good security.

  • If you're wanting to create an archive of messages that the kids can play back whenever they want Plex may be a good solution. You have playback apps for almost any platform, remote access with a plex pass account. The downside is the kids will struggle to leave messages for dad, but for Dad it should be easy to record messages and remotely drop them in the library folder.
  • RealNetworks has a service, "RealTime", that works across most platforms for doing just this kind of thing. The use case explained to me was a family sharing video where much of the family is Windows but also there is a Unix person, a few Apple-or-nothing, and another few "Android All the Way".

    Since this indeed describes my extended family, it was helpful.

  • Set up IceComm on a web site that only you and your kids can access, and give them the Chrome browser with a bookmark to go there at scheduled times .. []

    Very easy to set up server less video conferencing. Add a bit of TogetherJS to the mix and you've got realtime chat as well - without needing to install anything on any local computers besides the Chrome browser.

    I use IceComm on my main server as the 'front door' to my business - I have a browser sitting on my front door all day, and when

  • I cannot believe nobody here has brought up WeChat []. The app is free, is super easy to use, can send both short audio and video messages, as well as text chat, and make audio or video calls. It's far superior to Whatsapp; once you use it, Skype and Whatsapp look like button-mashing clickbait for imbeciles in comparison.

    Seriously, people, get your shit sorted out. WeChat fills all his listed requirements. Everyone should be using it for Internet comms.
  • Literally. Check us out at [] We had your usage in mind when we developed The Egg - families. We wanted to give people a private, EASY way to share photos, videos and other stuff with their families without using social media or cloud services. You can put videos, photos, whatever you like on The Egg and share them with your kids. They can use our iOS/Android app (or even a web browser) to view it. Please check us out! Thanks.
  • Check out The Egg ( ). We specifically had this usage in mind when we developed it: a way for families to PRIVATELY share photos, videos, that is EASY for all to use. You can put your stuff on your Egg (a handheld personal cloud device with up to 256GB of storage) and your kids will be able to access it using iOS or Android apps we've developed. Contact me if you'd like more information - we've got 'chat' on our website. Or

In every non-trivial program there is at least one bug.