Apple has long been rumored to integrate video conferencing capabilities in the iPhone, and most expected Skype to incorporate such a feature in its free application for iPhone and iPod Touch devices sooner or later, but Israel’s fring is first to actually do it.
Big caveat for starters: the camera on the iPhone 3GS is located on the back, which is handy for recording videos of people and locations in front of you but of course makes it impossible for you to point the camera at your own face while still being able to see the screen (unlike Nokia N Series phones for instance).
Thus, the latest version of fring’s iPhone app may well integrate video calling, but it’s only for incoming streams – which the startup acknowledges in the press release.
Its application for selected Nokia Symbian S60 devices, however, does two-way video calling.
The tool is designed to work for video calls between both fring and Skype contacts, but the new feature most definitely failed to deliver in my own personal experience at first. After trying to set up video calls both with a friend on Skype and someone from the company over fring, I found that calls were dropped automatically after only half a second. Two calls and multiple chat sessions with fring’s engineering team later, we found that – while my settings are hardly exotic – the configuration of my WiFi access point prevented me from handling incoming video calls using the fring application.
The company swiftly solved the problem of the blocked connection, and after rebooting my access point I successfully accepted an incoming video call from a fring engineer who was using his Nokia N97 camera and phone. It – finally – worked like a charm.
Do you have an iPhone, iPod Touch and are you near a WiFi access point, or do you have one of the supported Nokia devices, which also works over 3G?
Give it a whirl (iTunes link) and let us know if it works for you.