Watch out Apple, Fring has FaceTime in its sights and has launched a new version compatible with iOS 4. What this means for owners of the latest iPhone is they are no longer restricted to Wi-Fi only video chatting. Not only does Fring enable 3G video chat, the company is offering their software for multiple smartphone platforms.
Unlike FaceTime, which only allows video chat between two people who both own the iPhone 4, Fring makes it possible to video chat with anyone running the software and with those running Skype. Currently Fring is available on Android and Symbian phones as well as iOS 4.
The iPhone version of Fring also adds multitasking, allowing users to keep Fring running in the background to receive video calls and for other social networking features to keep open while the iPhone is doing other things. The new Fring software has been so popular after release this week that Fring had to temporarily switch off Skype capabilities to make more room for Fring video chat.
The future may not quite be here yet, as preliminary reviews of Fring video calling are mixed. First of all, many Android phones don't have a front facing camera yet, so video chatting is difficult. However when it comes to video quality FaceTime has Fring beat hands down. Part of the problem is that less reliable bandwidth is available over a 3G connection than on Wi-Fi.The interface design is also lacking compared to FaceTime, but it's a start. FaceTime is designed to be super-user friendly but Apple has not said when the service might come to 3G. The company wants more time to work with carriers and doesn't expect 3G support until after this year.
More apps like Fring to take advantage of front-facing cameras are inevitable, and might spur Apple to move FaceTime over to 3G networks. Cross platform mobile software will make video chatting more interesting to more people, as the feature is no longer restricted to individuals with the same devices.