Earlier this week Fring, the social contact company similar to Skype, brought its popular iPhone app to the iPad’s bigger screen. iPad users rejoiced at the news. But why? iPad users already have FaceTime, the Apple solution to video calling. So what’s so great about Fring? Read on.
For those of you who don’t know, the iPad has a pretty loyal following of people who prefer to see their counterpart’s face as they talk. The large iPad screen is perfect for this. Up until now Apple pretty much had this niche sewn up with FaceTime, but the popular app is not without its faults.
First off, FaceTime only works on a wifi network. So if you want to use it away from the house you can either lug around a mobile hotspot device or stick to the Starbucks nearest you. Fring works on both wifi and 3G connections.
Second, FaceTime only allows for person to person conversations. I’m not popular enough to have more than one friend so this is fine by me, but with Fring you can initiate a 4-way call for some serious gossip. I guess this is also handy for business meetings as well!
Third, FaceTime is iOS specific meaning you can only use it with iPhones or iPads, and even then only those that have cameras and can handle the data consumption. As such only iPad 2 and iPhone 4 can support FaceTime. Fring is platform agnostic. WM7, Android, Apple, Mac or PC it doesn’t matter. If it’s got an internet connection and a camera it’s good to go.
Finally, FaceTime is confusing! It simply pulls your phone contacts, and it’s up to you to figure out who has an iPhone 4 or an iPad 2. Fring will pull your contacts, but it will also leverage those contacts against it’s database to see who uses Fring. It then places those folks in a buddy list. It even separates them by whose online. Another benefit to Fring is that, like Skype, you can buy minutes to call non-Fring users on their phones. I’m not sure the need for this but it’s there.
Will I only use Fring for my calling? No, but in the event I need to have a face to face with a client or colleague I have a free option for video conferencing. Did I mention it’s a free download in the app store?