It’s been easy to take part in group video chats on web browsers thanks to Google Hangouts, Skype or Oovoo. On the go, however, FaceTime (for example) sticks strictly to a one-on-one formatand Snapchat only allows for two-way conversations. So what’s the best way to tell your extended family (all at once, to keep things fair) that you just got engaged, or discuss the new Radiohead music videos? New mobile app Airtimefrom Sean Parker (of Napster and Facebook fame), Daniel Klaus and Thomas Purnell-Fisheris offering a platform where the emphasis isn’t on likes or followers, but on actual exchanges.
Interestingly, Airtime first launched about four years ago as a video chat network that paired users with an “interesting stranger” ( la Chat Roulette). The relaunched version has this same pursuit of connectedness but keeping it to your loved ones. Organized by rooms, Airtime goes further than group video chat to support simultaneous streams of a YouTube video, a Soundcloud mix and much more. The engineering is astoundingto make group video as easy as sending a group text, audio and video quality not only have to be great, but also latency has to be kept to milliseconds rather than seconds. One technical issue could trigger FOMO or awkward gaps in the convo as one user tries to catch up.
“Airtime is about being with your friends. Engaging in life moments together. Airtime is about creating memories together, not looking at someone else’s curated life,” Klaus tells CH. “Watch a TV show, listen to music togetherall at the same time, or share a moment with your family watching your child take their first steps. Airtime is about being together.”
Airtime is now available for iOS and Android for free. Note that the app will need access to your contacts as well as your phone number.
Screengrabs from Airtime