If you don’t have any friends with a FaceTime-equipped device but still want to enjoy mobile video calling, there’s a new option that’s just hit the App Store in the form of Tango, available for both iOS as well as Android.
All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg devoted this week’s Personal Technology column to the just-released Tango app, which provides free video calling between iOS and Android devices in the same style as Apple’s own FaceTime.
After installing the Tango app, a simple registration is required (involving only your cell phone number, name and e-mail address) and once you allow the app to search your address book, it will find any friends who are already registered for the service and add them to your Tango Contacts. Given that the service is so new, you’ll likely come up with a blank Contacts list to start, but once you tap on the Invite tab, you can quickly invite others to join the party via e-mail or SMS.
So how does it work? “In my tests, Tango worked as promised, and was simple to use,” Mossberg reveals. “But the quality of its video calls was uneven, and only a few of my calls matched my best experiences with FaceTime, which, while hardly perfect, was better. Video froze or stuttered too often for my taste, and will have to become more reliable for me to recommend the service for important or frequent use.”
Mossberg is quick to note that despite its quirks, Tango is worth giving a try, since unlike FaceTime, the service is cross-platform (iOS and Android), works over both Wi-Fi and 3G and even runs on the older iPhone 3GS, which Apple’s own solution certainly does not. The tech guru also found the service easier to use than competitors like fring or Qik, particularly since Tango uses your mobile number to connect with other users rather than some arcane login name that you friends and family may not know.
While Mossberg previewed the Tango app on Wednesday, it became available to the public on Thursday and the free 5.4MB download is now live on the App Store. Tango requires iOS 4.0 or later and is compatible only with the iPhone at this time.
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