Skype is cooking up new solutions for video calls between iOS and Android devices by leveraging Qik, a live video streaming company it acquired in January.
It is Friday. Time for App of the Week.
The focus this week is on two applications that have merged to become one uber-application for video calls – Qik Video Connect for the iPhone from Skype.
Skype, of course, is the mammoth international communications platform that uses voice over IP for phone calls and does video calls, chat, messaging and more. Skype acquired Qik, an interactive mobile live-broadcast streaming application. In simpler terms, Qik will allow you to take video with your smart phone and (as long as you are on a good connection) upload it live to the Web, where people can watch and leave comments or join a chat.
Qik was growing quickly and was a threat to Skype before it was acquired and now the two are working together to create some of the most dynamic mobile streaming programs on the Web.
(Programming note: The Mobile Platform will be in Orlando next week for the CTIA Wireless conference. So, for next week only, look for an app, device or social platform of the day every day next week while I run around the convention center like my hair is on fire. Expect lots of video, tweets and some creative use of story telling.)
Back to Qik Video Connect for iPhone. ...
What is it?
Qik Video Connect for iPhone will allow video calls from iPhone and the fourth generation iPod Touch to Android devices over 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. Users will also be able to deliver live streams straight into Facebook and Twitter feeds, what they call “friendcasting.” It will allow for video mail and pull in contacts from your phone to see who is available for a live video chat.
The app is available for $2.99 in the Apple App Store.
What's the buzz?
Skype is cutting in to Apple’s territory by superseding FaceTime, its video-calling platform for iPhones and iPad 2s, so that it is not the only option for video calls on iOS devices.
Also, until Skype threw its muscle behind the problem, there was no great option to make video calls between Apple and Android devices. As front-facing cameras are becoming standard features on new smart phones, video calling will become the norm as opposed to an odd feature. Think of it like this – five to 10 years ago, it was seen as a little odd to meet somebody in person (or date someone) who you met on the Internet. Now, with events like Tweetups (where like-minded Twitter followers congregate for an event) or Match.com, that social restraint is a thing of the past. Soon, the awkwardness of video calls in public will be the same way.
If Skype were an actual telephone company (with cellular towers and infrastructure etc.) it would be the largest carrier in the world, with close to 700 million active users. It is one of the leaders in online communications and innovation and its mobile solutions have the potential to become industry standard.
Why does government care?
Skype is a cheap service and allows (mostly) free VOIP calls between users, including international users. There are a lot of companies lining up to provide video interoperability and unified communications standards for federal and local governments with Cisco and Microsoft, among others, leading the charge for your federal dollars. A lot of these solutions will require upgrades or replacement of legacy back-end systems.
In comparison, Skype is easy to use and extremely cost efficient. Qik Video Connect allows for ubiquity among devices as iOS and Android make inroads into agencies and municipalities. Workers in the field can use video to show objects or problems to an expert at headquarters or elsewhere without using some more expensive dedicated service.
The social features with embedding into Twitter and Facebook have the ability to help agencies with community engagement and transparency and create a conduit of interactivity so that citizens can feel that they are engaged in the policies and processes that affect their daily lives.
Why do I care?
I am a big fan of Qik. I have been using the service (mostly in my career as a sports reporter) for three years and find it to be one of the most useful applications out there for getting video from my smart phone to the Internet. I have used it to do stand-up reports in press boxes, streaming press conferences, wandering about the North End of Boston looking for the best slice of pizza in Little Italy and streaming interesting bands I find in seedy bars up and down the East Coast.
I am also an Android smart phone and iPad 2 user. Qik Video Connect will allow me to be able to use either device anywhere I am to video chat with any other Android or iOS user (well, those who have the right software and hardware specifications – iOS 4+, Android 2.2+ with front-facing cameras).
See below for a quick Qik.
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