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Newly launched mobile app Thrutu aims to make it a cinch to multitask during phone calls.
The free Android app, which landed on the Android Market today, extends the functionality of traditional phone calls by letting you share photos, location data and contact information. You can also vibrate your calling partner’s phone to “prod” them — think Facebook’s “poke” function meets the real world.
It should be noted that much of this functionality is already available on smartphones, but you have to juggle multiple apps to use all these features, and there’s no guarantee the person you’re calling will have the same apps as you. Thrutu simplifies that process by giving you a single unified interface to share information during a phone call.
The app comes with a few caveats: It only works on phones running on GSM networks like AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s in the US, or on Sprint’s 4G WiMax network. That’s because those networks can handle voice and data traffic at the same time. Verizon and Sprint’s 3G CDMA networks can’t juggle voice and data simultaneously. The fact that Thrutu doesn’t work on Verizon is a big problem for the app, as that network is home to some of the most popular Android phones like the Droid line.
Both callers also need to run Thrutu to take advantage of its features. That means you’ll need to plan ahead and make sure your friends install the app before you call — you can’t just be spontaneous. And since Thrutu only works on certain phone networks, you likely won’t be able to use it with all of your friends and family.
Eventually, Thrutu plans to add social media connectivity, games support, real-time video and the ability to let you plan events. BlackBerry and iPhone versions of the app are on the way as well.
Thrutu is certainly providing a useful upgrade to the classic phone call, but it still has plenty of hurdles to overcome before it can be useful to everyone.
The Silicon Valley-based company is the consumer division of Metaswitch Networks, which is backed by Sequoia Capital and Francisco Partners.