April 27, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The mobile video chat wars have been heating up since last May when the HTC EVO 4G helped usher in a new era of phones with front-facing cameras (in the U.S.). Since then, a number of companies have attempted to etch out a lane as leaders in the video chat race, and we’ve seen a couple of interesting ways of going about that in the past two days.
Qik video made its mark by introducing support for live video calls between Android phones and iPhones. Fring meanwhile introduced the ability to have group video chats on a mobile phone. Here’s a a closer look at what’s in each individual app’s update
QIK VIDEO CONNECT
Qik Video Connect is a new version of Qik the enables video chat between iPhone and Android users. It has been improved to be less battery-intensive and stream in better quality. It supports several new Android 2.1-Android 2.3 phones. I spoke with Qik co-founder Bhaskar Roy today and told him that the number one question readers wanted to ask is, “Why does it never work?” His only response was to install the latest version, which should address non-network-related problems. It’s a promise we’ve heard before, but give it a shot to see if they’ve finally righted the wheel.
As for the future of Qik, Roy was declined to comment about the possibility of desktop-to-mobile video chat or possible Skype integration since Skype acquired the company in January. A media rep could only confirm that the Qik roadmap is fully supported and users can expect more updates and take advantage of the improved video mail feature currently in Qik.
Today, Fring announced that it now supports group video chat on Android and iPhone. Emerging from a very short and very public beta period, the latest of Fring makes it possible for Android users to chat with up to 3 additional friends and see everyone’s face in one window. The calls are made in DVQ for increased quality and are available for free over 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi.
The app currently supports up to four people at launch, but the company revealed that it plans to increase the number of people available in future updates. Compatibility for Fring varies, but most modern Android phones with front-facing cameras that used the app before should work. Galaxy S, LG G2X, and Honeycomb tablets may have a tougher go, so don’t go crazy if things don’t work out. Download from the market and give it a try.