With the world under lockdown, as a self-confessed unified comms geek, it’s been great to see how people have been able to keep in touch with friends and family using video – something that just wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago.
I’ve been no different, my folks and in-laws seem even more distant now, and finding a way of keeping in touch and allowing my 18-month-old son to see his grandparents was job number 1. And boy do I wish I’d picked up the box of Poly conferencing kit I had next to my desk the last time I was at the office!
Passing around an iPad with Facetime soon got tedious and I wanted something that would capture the whole living room so everyone could see the little guy playing and running around. I had a look at the Facebook Portal devices, in particular the one that mounts onto your TV, but to be honest I wasn’t keen on spending the money on an experiment. It was then I noticed my Xbox One.
I remember reading that MS had added webcam support to the Xbox so I went searching for a Logitech Brio webcam I had lying around. After plugging it all in and installing the Skype app I gave it a try… and I have to say, it works great. Sure you need a cam that has a built-in mic, but there are loads of them around. The Skype app is functional, if not very pretty, but its something you’re only going to use to launch calls so for that it’s perfectly fine.
Having got Skype working, I then started to think about what else might be available. I couldn’t find any dedicated apps for other platforms – though I think people are missing a trick there having seen how well Skype works – but Xbox runs on Windows right? And it has an Edge browser? Hmmm…
So it turns out if you point your Xbox browser at teams.microsoft.com and sign-in, you can use the Teams UI just as you would on any other device, including setting up and joining calls direct from the Xbox. Once a call starts you get the same request to allow the site to access your cam and mic, but once you click to allow it everything works as expected.
I doubt anyone will seriously use it, but if you’re ever stuck and need to do a Teams call from your sofa, your Xbox will do a pretty decent job of it :)
Ps. I also tried Zoom, and that works to a point, but computer audio isn’t supported on the Xbox’s Edge browser so you’d have to dial-in to any calls call. Video seems to work fine though.