Android beats iPhone to the punch with video calling

May 27, 2010: 10:45 PM ET

Today's Fring 2.1 update for Android allows owners of devices like HTC's EVO to make video calls from their phones.

Besting Apple's next iPhone by at least a few weeks, Fring announced today the general availability of its Fring 2.1 software for Android.  With a front-facing camera phone like the Sprint EVO 4G, you can now make video calls to your Skype contacts on their computers or other devices with front facing cameras.

I've tested this and it works pretty well, though the software is still in beta and required me to do a fresh install after my upgrade crashed.  To be fair, the Evo is a week away from launch and the install works fine on new phones - I was just a rare case of having a previously installed version which wouldn't exist in the wild.

The video quality isn't fantastic -- compare to a significantly-compressed YouTube video.  Audio is the same.  Fring promises better quality in upcoming releases.

That being said, you now have a mobile teleconferencing solution built into your Android phone.

Here's a little test call to the wife and kid (who are about the only people I want to video chat with):

You can see that it seems to work best in landscape mode and you get the other person's video on the left and a video of yourself on the right.

Sprint (S) demonstrated the HTC EVO with this functionality at their launch event, though the software they used was made by Qik.  The EVOs that were given out at Google (GOOG) I/O have video conferencing disabled in Qik software, but Sprint promises upgrades soon that will take advantage of this functionality.

Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone 4/HD hardware leaks have had front-facing cameras and Video iChat has been found in the beta code.  They are widely expected to announce this functionality at their WWDC in June.

But I have it now on a much bigger screen.

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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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