Sometimes you want to make video calls between two groups of people, not just individual person-to-person calls. For such occasions, here are a few little tips that will make the experience of placing video calls on your iPhone 4S(s AAPL) a much better one. The goal: Live video calls over the internet to a large HDTV in the family room. The challenge is getting the best video quality possible, as well as making the call as convenient to manage as possible. And believe it or not, the trick is to use a smartphone car mount with a hand mirror. That’s right, a common household hand mirror.
What You Need to Get Started
To start, you will also need an HDTV with an Apple TV attached, an iPhone 4S and a free Skype account. Why Skype and not FaceTime? Well there are many more Skype(s MSFT) users than FaceTime users. And quite frankly, it is much easier to get all members of the family up and running with a free Skype account than to initialize everyone’s iOS and Mac devices with FaceTime.
Prepare the Car Mount
Most iPhone docks are designed for someone sitting at a desk. What is needed is a better mount that can allow the iPhone to be better positioned for larger settings. Take any decent smartphone car mount with a suction cup, like this one from Arkon for $15 on Amazon. The suction cup needs a smooth surface to attach to, so try mounting it to any household hand mirror. This set up gives extra stability to the video and the added ability to pass the camera in the mount around easily. The great thing about the car mount from Arkon is that it is just about infinitely adjustable, so no matter how or where you need to place the hand mirror you can angle the iPhone the way you want. And if you happen not to have anywhere to place the hand mirror, just tack up a nail and hang the hand mirror upside down on the wall. Just don’t lock in the iPhone 4S before you make the video call. (The mount’s quick release allows one to attach and detach the iPhone quickly and easily.) Wait until after the call has been established before you put the iPhone into the car mount attached to the hand mirror.
Initiate the Video Call
Placing a video call on Skype with an iPhone is just as easy as chatting or placing a voice call. To increase the quality of the video once the call is established, be sure to use the back camera of the iPhone. Then double click the phone’s Home button and swipe left twice to reveal the volume and Airplay buttons. To display the call on the big screen, just click on the Apple TV you want to use and turn on Mirroring. Once you’ve done that, mount the iPhone in the car mount and experience video calls on the big screen. As a side note, I have found that when placing Mac-to-iPhone Skype video calls, it is easier to establish a video connection when the call originates from the Mac.
If this solution works great for you, you can always shop around for a more attractive mounting solution. You could even invest in a mountable surface that permanently affixes itself to the wall just above your HDTV. For instance, the top shelf of my main entertainment system is made of glass, so I don’t really need a mirror in that room of the house. There are just as many car mounts on the market as there are solutions on how to mount them on or near an HDTV.