Few weeks back, Fring made an exciting announcement of their ability to let iPhone users get 1-way video conference via SKYPE. I had been all too busy for the past month to do any test on it. I finally was able to spend some time with this feature and here is my feedback on using Fring Video on iPhone:
Fring installation and registration on iPhone is pretty easy; the login process is much better than back in the hay days when I was trying to use my Nokia N95-3 to make 3G network test calls. You basically choose a username, password and provide a valid email address and off you go. The app is smart enough to save the login and password so you don't have to re-login each time you use the app. The next step is to login to your Skype account within Fring. Fring also offers the bridge to login to other IM/VOIP services, check out their website for all the details.
After setting up, my first couple of video test calls using a MacBook Pro did not work, I would only get audio portion of the communication; on my MacBook Pro, the video button was grayed out and can't be gauged (LED off). Then magically, on the 3rd try, it just worked; I was able to see the videos coming through and audio pretty clearly. Speaking of audio, I did find a small bug where pressing the speaker icon did not toggle between headset and speaker output... not sure this is a common bug or just from this particular first generation "pwnd" iPhone. I plugged in a stereo headphones w/ mic and worked pretty good, in fact, this is probably how I'd recommend using if you are on the road. I placed several test calls afterwards, some went through while others got a bit choppy (it would delay the video transmission upwards of 1 minute or sometimes just not engage; at times calls would also be refused even though it was accepted). The buggy conditions are not consistent to be reproduced. Through my own surmise, I am guessing it may have something to do with having to go through Skype via Fring server? Although this is an unverified thought. While this mobile experience hasn't been perfected, I must award some much deserved credit to the folks at Fring for once again, pushing their technology envelope to bring this to your iPhone.
The concept of having video conference on the call WITHOUT having to pay a hefty fee to telecom operator is a sexy thought. Think about your next business trip and as you are waiting at an airport lounge or coffee shop and see your loved ones via WiFi network on your smartphone (of course, if it supports transmission via 3G network is even sexier). Currently Fring supports video conference on iPhone and Symbian S60 (2-ways!); its just a matter of time before Android gets picked up and I'm sure this puts pressure at Skype or even Google Talk to start supporting this feature in native form. Very cool indeed!