SHAPE Services, makers of the popular, cross-platform IM+ mobile instant messaging applications, is today launching its first video chatting app: IM+ Video. The new app, available here on iTunes, lets you video and voice call with your Facebook friends – and not just those using IM+.
The VoIP calls made using IM+ are not restricted to Wi-Fi, as they are with Apple’s own FaceTime video calling feature, but work over Wi-Fi, 3G or Edge. In addition, the calls can be received by friends browsing the Facebook website, including those who aren’t using the IM+ application.
After installing the app, you have to authenticate using Facebook Connect, which then brings you to a screen showing a list of your Facebook friends, both online and offline. To place a call or start a chat session, just tap your friend’s name in the list, then tap “call” or “chat.”
If the friend is an IM+ user and is on mobile, a push notification is sent to initiate the video call. Otherwise, IM+ uses Facebook chat to send a link to an IM+ Video “webphone” (an online video calling interface).
But the app is offering something that Facebook itself hasn’t gotten around to yet, despite its Skype integration: support for video calling within its own Facebook-branded mobile application called Facebook Messenger. Although code found within this app seems to suggest that video chat is coming soon, it hasn’t arrived yet, which gives third parties like IM+ time to establish a user base.
The IM+ Video app is free, and calls within the app are free. There are no ads or in-app upgrades offered either. Perhaps IM+ Video is starting off free so as to introduce users to other apps within the IM+ family, some of which are monetized either as premium downloads or through in-app purchases? Maybe. But according to SHAPE’s CEO Igor Berezovsky, decisions on how to monetize the new app are still forthcoming.
An Android version of the app is also now in development, we’re told.
Today’s video calling application was made possible thanks to SHAPE Services’ July acquisition of Hong Kong-based CrispApp, makers of the fone app, another a video-chatting application for iOS devices.