Using your smartphone to make video calls has not been around very long, with Skype only launching its app last December and it's still pretty impressive.
However, for many it’s not an ideal system having to hold up the phone in front of you for the whole conversation and now having up to four people take part in the conversation makes things just a bit more complicated.
While group video calling on PCs has been around since this time last year, group calling on mobile phones is something we’ve not seen before – that is unless you've been part of the Group Video beta from Fring released earlier this month. Fring, a VoIP calling and chat service, has released updated iOS and Android apps which allow for group video calling for up to four people – and all for free. Group video calls are supported over Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G with Fring using what it calls “Dynamic Video Quality” technology to automatically adjust video bit rates and frame rates to accommodate network bandwidth.
“Users love seeing all their friends at the same time, on one screen, but want to be able to do it when and where they want,” says CEO and co-founder Avi Shechter. “This video call revolution lets fringsters be free to get together, wherever.” Of course group video calling on smartphones or indeed tablets, despite their bigger and better screens, is not going to be suitable for most people. However in an emergency, (say you want to tell three people all at once that you’ve reached the summit of Mount Everest) it could have its value.
Innovation like this from Fring is certainly a good thing and it puts it one step ahead of its competitors, Skype and Apple’s own FaceTime, who are sure to follow suit in the near future. The updated Fring app is now available for compatible iOS 4.x and Android 1.5 devices with the company recommending phones rocking 1GHz processors and above.