Google Hangouts formerly set the standard for online video chat, but a new contestant has taken the lead with a service that not only offers flawless video chat, but also a perfectly synced Chrome window between all call participants. Welcome Rabbit to the stage.
Recently redesigned video chat service Rabbit broadcasts a Chrome window from a virtualized desktop to all call participants (up to 10). Participants can take turns “holding the remote” (controlling Chrome) to entertain or collaborate with other people.
The best possibility Rabb.it has to offer is watching movies or TV shows together with friends on services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, et cetera. Since everyone is sharing the same screen, only one person needs to log in to a premium content service like Netflix to enable everybody to use it. I’m sure this would concern service providers if they found out, and it’s probably against their TOS, but it’s not that different from just watching movies in your living room with friends, so I wouldn’t have any qualms about it.
Another use is playing music together on websites like Spotify, Pandora, and Grooveshark. With Grooveshark, for instance, you could collaboratively build a music queue or have someone act as a DJ for other call participants.
A third fun way to use Rabbit is to play online games. Unfortunately, since only one person can control the screen at once, playing multiplayer games at the same time isn’t possible, but turn based games or games with levels where you can trade off work well. Alternatively, maybe someone in your group is really good at a game and everyone just wants to watch them play (without going through the hassle of setting up Twitch).
The quality of the video from the virtualized desktop is surprisingly good. It is in HD, the audio is smooth, and the interaction lag is barely perceptible. The only gripe I have about the video is that the virtualized cursor is shown under your own cursor, and since they are slightly unsynchronised it is distracting. This is unavoidable though without sending a different stream to the controlling user, and I would rather have a duplicate cursor than lose the ability to gesture to things on the screen for other people.
Rabbit works in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.