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Before there was (Apple’s video-calling app) FaceTime, there was Qik. Now T-Mobile and the video chat company are teaming up to bring integrated video chat to the upcoming MyTouch 4G Android smartphone.
Qik’s service — which lets users stream live video to the web from their phones and video chat with other Qik users — has been around for some time. But now the company truly has a chance to shine thanks to the proliferation of front-facing cameras for video conferencing. The popular Evo 4G was the first Android phone to include a front-facing camera and had Qik’s application built-in.
Not-so-creatively dubbed “T-Mobile Video Chat powered by Qik”, the service takes video chat to the next level for Android phones by integrating it directly into the MyTouch 4G. In addition to letting users easily perform two-way video calls, it will also be able to take advantage of the native Android address book, detect the availability of contacts for video chat, and even let users leave video messages.
It’s unclear if users will need to sign up for Qik’s service in order to perform video calls. We’ve dropped a line to the company and will update when we hear back. (Update: Qik tells us that users will have to sign up for an account to use T-Mobile’s service.)
Just like Apple’s seamless integration of FaceTime video chat on the iPhone 4, it’s important for video chat to be integrated directly with Android phones. The small barrier of launching a third-party application and signing up for its service is enough to keep mainstream users away. With FaceTime, iPhone 4 users only need to hit a button to start a video call — hopefully the process will be as simple for MyTouch 4G users.
T-Mobile’s video chat service also bests FaceTime in a few ways: There’s currently no way to easily tell if an iPhone contact is available for video calls, and FaceTime doesn’t allow for video messages. And since T-Mobile’s offering is based on Qik’s service, MyTouch 4G users could potentially chat with Qik users on other platforms.
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