Live Link 3G J [iTunes Japan only, Free] from Yudo.jp brings free video conferencing to the iPhone in Japan – over the 3G network.
Using Live Link 3G J is simplicity itself: both iPhone uses launch the app, and enter a matching keyword of their own choosing. A few seconds later the screen is divided into two – the top half showing video from the remote iPhone camera, the bottom showing that from the local camera.
Of course there’s one fundamental problem with the system that is unlikely to be fixed anytime soon – the iPhone only has a camera facing away from the user. So whilst you can share what you can see, you can’t easily use it to do video conferencing in the traditional ‘face to face’ sense.
In the current version 1.0.0, users have the ability to mute the mic, pause the outgoing video stream, lower the quality of the video (useful if bandwidth is poor), and choose which audio to listen to (that of the local iPhone or the remote paired iPhone).
Version 2.0.0, announced on the company site on the 20th March but (at the time of writing) yet to surface in the iTunes Japan App Store promises to bring:
- Reduced latency (delay)
- Wifi support
- User profile registration
- Twitter integration
- Improved sound and video quality
Importantly, there is also mention of ‘Global Compatibility’, meaning it should eventually become available outside of Japan. The company has also announced a paid version which will allow users to decorate their videos with hand-drawn messages.
Future updates are said to include a friend function and push notifications. Importantly, there is also mention of ‘Global Compatibility’, meaning it should eventually become available outside of Japan.
The ease with which one can connect to other users came as quite a surprise – whilst testing the app for Mobile in Japan with two iPhones, I managed to connect to two complete strangers by entering the keyword ‘aaaaa’. I’m not sure who was more surprised – them or me!
Whilst this app may not be suitable for couples living apart (not being able to turn the iPhones on themselves and still gaze into their partner’s eyes), it could be very useful in situations where you quickly want to show someone something, whilst simultaneously explaining it. Think business plans, or a view of your surroundings when trying to meet someone in a strange place.
A word of advice though – choose your keywords wisely; you don’t want to be giving people heart attacks as I did tonight.
Someone has uploaded an unofficial demo video of the app here.