About a week ago, I posted about one of the “forgotten” services available to 3G-based mobile phones: video calls. Obviously I’m not going to waste time recalling it here, but basically I felt it was worth pointing out that owners of Nokia smartphones can still make video calls via their mobile networks (as long as the particular network being used offers them—mine does), and they can sometimes end up cheaper than a voice call on the same network.
Now, at this point, I can hear the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch users piping up: “Big woo—we can do this via FaceTime/Skype/whatever!” Yes, you can, and fair play to you. I do rather wish there was a Symbian equivalent to FaceTime, to be honest, and it’s still somewhat irritating that Skype’s Symbian client doesn’t yet offer video (it’s audio-only at time of writing).
Nevertheless, I felt sure that there was some way for me to make video calls from my Nokia N8 to my wife’s mobile, if only I could find it. In the event, I came up with the solution more quickly than I expected, mainly because I’d already used it in the past, for a different purpose.
Fring has been around for a few years, as a multi-protocol instant messaging and Internet phone application. I’d used the Fring app/service on my previous mobile (a Nokia N95), but mainly to access Skype and our SIP (Internet phone) service when there were no better ways to do so on the N95. By the time I switched to my N8, Skype had put out a reasonable client for it, and the N8 has SIP functionality integrated into the main phone software, so I thought I didn’t need Fring any more.
However, I realised the other day that Fring had a number of other tricks up its sleeve that I’d forgotten, and one was very relevant: video-calling between Fring users. So, it was off to the Ovi Store for Joy and I, to get Fring installed (and in my case, to resurrect my dormant Fring account)…
…and at the present time, that’s where we’ve left it, as we haven’t had time yet to actually try calling each other with Fring. I imagine it would work well enough if one or both of us were on a wireless network (e.g. at home), though I’m not sure about a 3G connection—not so much due to 3G speed, but more because I believe my mobile network used to block or impede SIP calls (and, I think, Skype).
So, I’ll let you know how this all works out, but in the meantime, until Skype sees fit to add video to its Symbian offering, Fring could well be the answer for “smartphone” users wishing to make free video calls.