It wasn’t too long ago when video calling seemed like a superfluous feature that sounded cool but that was rarely used. But as the technology has improved and mobile data services have grown faster, video calling has slowly started to catch on. In fact, a study by Pew Internet released on Thursday found that 21% of cell phone owners “participate in a video call or video chat.” This is up from around 7% in 2011, when services such as FaceTime and Skype started to pick up steam on mobile devices. The study did not specify which phones were primarily used for video calling. The results of the study follow below. More →
Google on Wednesday announced a major redesign for its Google+ social networking site that will introduce a more functional and flexible user experience. The new interface focuses on customization, Google’s Hangout video chatting service and features that will make it easier to discover new conversations and profile pages. One of the first improvements users will notice is a revamped navigation bar located on the left-hand side of the screen. The “ribbon of applications” can be dragged, dropped and placed in any order. The new interface also features a Facebook-like chat bar on the right with a “Trending” widget to help users discover popular topics on Google+, and a dedicated Hangout page will provide users with quick access to popular hangouts, tips and live broadcast. The new design is slowly rolling out and will be available over the next few days. A video highlighting the new Google+ can be found after the break. More →
Video calling has been extremely slow to catch on, but adoption is finally set to explode according to a recent forecast from NPD Group-owned market research firm In-Stat. According to the firm’s figures, 63 million people could be counted as active video calling users in 2010. In 2015, that number is expected to balloon to 380 million. “While the mobile arena is relatively nascent, it has fueled much of the growth in usage over the course of 2011,” In-Stat analyst Amy Cravens said in a statement. PCs will remain the most popular platform for video calling, but the technology’s expansion to smartphones, tablets and even televisions will also play a role in accelerating adoption. Connectivity is key on mobile devices though, and smartphone-based video calling experiences leave much to be desired due to shaky cellular connections. The rapid rollout of 4G LTE networks around the world should help to improve the mobile video calling experience dramatically, however. NPD In-Stat’s full press release follows below.
Skype on Thursday announced that its Mac OS X and Windows beta clients now support video calls to Facebook users. Skype introduced a Facebook-to-Facebook video client for the social network in July, but now users on both platforms can video chat with one another. Users who choose to download Skype 5.7 Beta on Windows or Skype 5.4 Beta on Mac will be prompted to enter in their Facebook credentials. Once logged in, Facebook friends will be presented on the Skype buddy list and a video chats can easily be initiated. Skype also said it has added a group screen-sharing feature for its Skype Premium Windows users, an option that was released in an earlier Mac OS X update. A video of Skype’s Facebook calling integration follows after the break.
Tango, the popular cross-platform video calling application for PC, Android and iPhone, launched on Wednesday as the first video-chat application for Windows Phone 7.5 devices. You will need a front-facing camera to take advantage of the face-to-face chat feature, which means you’ll also need to own one of the newer Windows Phone 7.5 devices such as the Samsung Focus S, Samsung Focus Flash or HTC Titan. We installed the application this morning and gave it a quick test over a 3G network. The video quality was poor, but we were alerted that this was because of a weak 3G signal. Still, we loved the user interface on Windows Phone 7.5 and found it much cleaner than the Tango application for Android. In addition, it automatically filters out your address book to show only contacts that have Tango installed, which was a nice touch. The application is free and is available in the Windows Phone Marketplace now. A video of the application follows after the break. More →
Fresh on the heels of launching a client for the iPad, Skype released Skype version 5.3 for Mac on Monday. The update adds support for Apple’s latest OS X Lion operating system as well as HD video chat. Users will now be able to send and receive HD-quality video using their built-in Mac webcams or other HD-capable cameras. Skype says that the feature will work best for those with internet connections that can maintain at least 1.5Mbps upload/download throughput. The software is compatible with with OS X Leopard and later versions of Apple’s PC operating system. More →
Facebook on Wednesday took the wraps off of the latest major addition to the world’s most popular social network: video chat. Through a partnership with Skype, Facebook video users will now be able to video chat with each other through the company’s new service… for free. The service works just like Skype’s standard video calling service, but video calls can be initiated right from within the Facebook website with a simple click. “A few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook,” Facebook wrote on its blog. “We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window.” Facebook video calling will roll out to all users over the next few weeks. More →
Skype announced on Wednesday that its Android application now supports video calling on select devices. The application is particularly attractive because it allows mobile users to connect with other users on Mac, Windows, TV, iOS, or other Android devices. Skype says the app was built with a complete new redesign, too, which includes a new main menu, easier contact navigation, quick access to your profile, and more. There’s even a new “mood” message box that allows you to show what you’re up to or how you’re feeling. Skype for Android requires Android 2.3 and above, as well as a front-facing camera for video chat. It currently supports the HTC Desire S, the Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, the Sony Ericsson Xperia pro, and the Google Nexus S. Skype says it also has plans to roll out support for additional handsets in the near future. Hit the jump for a video demo of the new client in action. More →
Sprint announced on Tuesday that it will offer the Wi-Fi version of Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet for $499 beginning June 24th. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) and sports a 10.1-inch display, a 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 3-megapixel camera, and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video chats. We recently reviewed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 developer edition, loaded with Android 3.0, and while it had some faults we still noted that it’s the “thinnest, sexiest Android tablet available today.” Read on for the full press release. More →
HP’s webOS is already tightly integrated with a number of services but now it appears that the OS will soon offer Skype integration, too. According to leaked screenshots, users will soon be able to choose to route their calls directly through Skype from the phonebook application, an option that will no doubt save international callers a big chunk of change. Similarly, users may also be able to place Skype video calls, allowing them to use the front-facing camera on the Pre 3 for video chats. It’s unclear when the integration will be introduced, but this has us more excited than ever for the Pre 3 to finally hit store shelves. More →
HP has posted a new video for its highly anticipated TouchPad tablet on YouTube, and it highlights several of the tablet’s distinguishing features. In the three minute clip, HP demos the ability to manage tasks simultaneously, the speed of the dual-core Qualcomm processor, HP Synergy, light gaming, HTML5 and Adobe Flash support, Citrix Receiver, video calling, and HP’s Touch To Share technology for keeping your webOS phone and tablet in sync. The TouchPad is set to debut on July 1st for $499.99. Hit the jump to see the video for yourself. More →
We’ve seen plenty of leaked shots of the DROID 3 (also known as the Milestone 3 in Europe), but now you can get a glimpse of the clearest one yet. The phone first surfaced in March, again in April, and then the specs were leaked in May. The bad news is that it’s becoming more and more clear that the phone will be nearly identical in looks to the DROID 2. The good news is there’s decent spec boost. The DROID 3 should sport a 4-inch display with 960 x 540 qHD resolution, a dual-core processor, HDMI-out, and an 8-megapixel camera that’s presumably capable of recording HD video. Early rumors suggested a June launch on Verizon Wireless, so hopefully we’ll hear more in the coming weeks. More →