New application for smartphones: mobile video calls
The Wall St Journal publishes an interesting article that evaluates the different mobile video calling services currently available. The main driver of mobile video calls, at the moment, is Apple, which has introduced front cameras and a free video calling service called FaceTime on its latest iPhone and iPod Touch models.
But a number of small businesses are struggling to provide free video calling between mobile phones and there is a new app that aims to be more versatile and almost as simple as FaceTime. It's called Tango and it's developed by a Silicon Valley company, created just a year ago, with the same name. To use it, simply download a free application from Apple's App Store or from Android Market.
Unlike FaceTime, which currently only works between iPhone 4 devices or newer iPod Touch models, Tango is cross-platform. It works on both the iPhone (even last year's 3G model) and various phones with Google's Android operating system.
Also, unlike FaceTime, which only works when both parties are connected to Wi-Fi networks, Tango works both in Wi-Fi networks and mobile data networks and each of the devices participating in the call can be connected from either of these two types of network.
Another advantage of Tango is its simplicity. There are some mobile video calling services from other companies like Fring and Qik, but Tango is easier to use. It uses our phone number as the ID for the service and periodically scans our phone book for Tango users. When it finds one, it adds that person to the app's calendar. You don't need to create a complicated profile. Just download the Tango app and give our phone number and an email address.
Since it works on rear camera phones, the company claims it can be used in about 30 models, including those from Acer, Apple, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Pantech.
In testing, Tango did what it promises and was easy to use, but video call quality has been uneven, with only a few matching the best FaceTime experiences. The video image froze or stuttered too often and will need to become more reliable in order to recommend it for important or frequent use. But if Tango can improve its reliability, it will have a lot going for it.