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Video calling apps for the iPhone 4

As with the HTC EVO 4G on Android, there are two solid video calling options available for the iPhone 4. Shawn Morton looks at FaceTime and Fring for the iPhone 4.

Last month, I highlighted two video calling options (Qik and Fring) for HTC EVO 4G owners. Now that Apple has moved nearly 1.7 million front-facing-camera-toting iPhones in the first three days, there will be a huge surge in video calling. Throw in the 3G antenna reception issues that are plaguing the latest iPhone, and video calling may be the only way iPhone 4 owners can communicate (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

As with the HTC EVO 4G on Android, there are two solid video calling options available for the iPhone 4: FaceTime and Fring. Here's a look at both.

FaceTime

Unlike Android, which supports video calling through third-party apps, Apple decided to bake video calling right into iOS4 with FaceTime. This means that you can initiate a video call pretty much the same way that you initiate a voice call.

  1. Select someone from your Contacts list.
  2. Tap the FaceTime button.

If you're already in a voice call, you start a video call by tapping the FaceTime button from the phone screen. Fortunately, Apple doesn't make you guess which of your friends have an iPhone 4 -- you are only presented the FaceTime video calling option if you attempting to call another iPhone 4 owner. That's a nice touch.

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Right now, FaceTime is only supported over Wi-Fi. While Apple didn't come right out and blame AT&T's network for that decision, it is pretty safe to bet that having 1.7 million iPhone 4 users firing up video calls on launch day would have brought any mobile network to its knees.

As you would expect, the overall experience with FaceTime is very good. You get a nice full-screen view of the other caller. You also get higher video and audio quality due to the use of Wi-Fi rather than 3G.

Apple's press photo for FaceTime

While FaceTime is a great new iOS4 feature, it is only available to iPhone 4 owners due to the lack of a front-facing camera on previous iPhone models.

Related TechRepublic column: Enterprise admins should no to FaceTime.

Fring

Fring made a bit of a splash back in late May by launching the first video calling app for the HTC EVO 4G, which didn't launch until June 4, 2010. The Fring team wasn't as quick to the iPhone 4 party; it was last week before they updated Fring's iPhone app to support the front-facing camera. (CNET's Jessica Dolcourt tried the older version of Fring on the iPhone 4, and she wasn't impressed.)

Now that Fring has launched an updated version for iPhone 4, your video calling options just got a bit better.

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

In addition to supporting the front camera on the iPhone 4, Fring also supports video calling over 3G. The most impressive feature, though, is cross-platform support. Fring will let you video call between iPhone 4 devices and Android devices like the HTC EVO 4G.

Video and audio quality are highly dependent on the strength of your 3G signal; but, if you need to do video calling outside of a Wi-Fi network, Fring is your only choice.

Bottom line

While FaceTime offers the best integration and ease of use, Fring will allow you to reach across platforms and video call with your Android friends as well.

Look for things to get a lot more interesting as other video calling apps, like Skype, enter the marketplace.

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6 comments
Lulugreen
Lulugreen

It is a detailed post about video calling apps for the iPhone 4. I get more informations from your post. But there are other problems about iPhone 4. For example, how to backup files from iPhone 4 to computer. Here I give you a post about backup iPhone 4 to your computer. I hope it can help you.

S
S

VIDEOCHAT on iPhone4 through Yahoo Messenger-Great quality audio/video over 3G. SUCCESS: iPhone to PC and iPhone to any smartphone. ENJOY!!!

Epodair
Epodair

My fring app has crashed a fewtimes..but I like that I can use it with more than just those on the iPhone 4.

yobtaf
yobtaf

I was sure he'd have something clever to add.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It was only another spam post that churned this back to the surface. Since five of the six previous posts were either spam or way off-topic, it appears no one had else had a comment either. But since you asked, I'm not sure why an app would be necessary. Isn't this capability an inherent feature of the device? Won't it do video calling right out of the box?

NexS
NexS

You seem to be the only clever one around here. ;)