An easy and convenient way of sharing a browsing session with friends without using IMs, Skype, or similar tools is the Channel.me service. This online service lets you and your friends (or a work group) explore a webpage together. It also has a Chrome extension, which when launched, opens the page for you in a separate browsing session and provides you a link to share with anyone you want to collaborate with.
Once the Chrome extension is installed a furry blue alien appears alongside your apps, this is the Channel.me icon. Clicking on the alien will start your session. To start sharing a webpage using the extension, open the page in your browser, or if you already have it open, click the Channel.me icon. The webpage will reload in Channel.me (the URL will change) a bar will appear at the bottom of the browser showing number of friends on chat, number of participants and an add note feature. A pop-up opens inside the browser giving you a link and options to share it either through email, Twitter or Facebook. You can send the link to anyone you want to invite to the session.
To access the service directly, go to the Channel.me homepage and input the URL of the website you want to collaborate on; a link is provided for you to share with friends.
Once your friend clicks on the link you’ve shared, they will be taken to the same page you’re viewing. You will be able to see all cursor movements and actions made by everyone in the session. If anyone decides to click on a link, all participants are notified by a small text box appearing at the exact location where the cursor was clicked. All participants are taken to the new page. If either of the participants opens a new tab, other participants will not be able to view it. New tabs cannot be opened in the shared session. Holding down the control key and clicking on a link will open the link in the same tab.
The service also allows the participants to make notes on the webpage. Participants can add different notes simultaneously, the contents of the note are not visible to everyone until the note is saved. Any one of the participants can close a note made by any other participant. The service also includes a chat feature.
To start collaborating on a new page, simply click on the Channel.me icon in the bottom left corner that says ‘Channel’, a menu opens with the option ‘Channel Homepage’. Clicking on the link will take you to Channel.me’s home page and you can start the sharing process again.
What the service doesn’t do is if you leave a page where you or your friends made notes and navigate to a different page, it does not save notes from the previous page. If you want to share a new page, the new link will have to be sent to all participants again. There is no grouping option for link sharing, however, you can create a Facebook group and when you share the link on your wall, restrict it so that only members of that group can see it.