NOTE: This article does not contain any genealogy-related information, but it might give some readers another way to stay in touch with distant family members.
Last summer, Apple paved the way for face-to-face calling and conferencing on mobile phones with FaceTime, available over wi-fi connections between users of the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4 features a front-facing camera, so users can easily see and talk to each other. The result appears to be straight from the twenty-third century: two-way video between handheld "communicators." Wouldn't it be nice to do the same with an iPhone 3 or even with an Android phone? Now you can.
The Tango app for both iPhone and Android phones offers free mobile video calls over 3G, 4G, or wi-fi wireless networks. Android users can now communicate with Android users or with iPhone users and vice versa. Even owners of the latest iPod Touch with front-facing camera can make two-way video calls with iPhone and EVO 4G or Galaxy S Android users as long as they have access to a wi-fi network.
When used on wi-fi, the app does not use your cell phone minutes; so, the calls are free of charge, even if calling another country on the opposite side of the globe.
Now, THIS is an application that is making the world smaller!
I have now seen Tango make video connections between a 3G iPhone and a 4G iPhone as well as between a 4G iPhone and an EVO 4G or Galaxy S Android phone with video cameras.
NOTE: The older 3G iPhone does not have a front-facing camera, only one on the rear. Using this solution on an iPhone 3G is a bit awkward, as the user can only see the screen on one side and then has to flip the phone over for the other party to see him or her. Yes, it is awkward with Tango, but is impossible with Apple's software. One person reportedly stands in front of a large mirror to make Tango calls with an iPhone 3. Now THAT is imaginative!
Tango supports Android 2.1 or higher, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4G running iOS 4.0 or higher, and iPod touch fourth-generation, and it should also work with Apple's new iPad 2. Unlike Apple's FaceTime, Tango does not require a wi-fi connection. It will work on a 3G or 4G wireless connection as well, although video quality may suffer a bit on these slower wireless connections. Use wi-fi if you have it, but 3G will suffice when you don't. Once again, when you do have access to wi-fi, using Tango will not use any of your cell phone minutes, regardless of the distance involved.
Tango is a free app. You can download it from the iPhone app store or the Android Market. Each user downloads the app and enters their phone information. Tango then instantly scans your entire contact/phone book, looking for other Tango users. The entire setup for Tango, once downloaded, takes less than a minute.
Tango will automatically recognize which friends have already installed Tango. When I installed it, I found a couple of friends that I hadn't seen in several years were already listed as Tango users. They were still in my iPhone phonebook from years ago, and Tango found them.
The face-to-face video calls made via Tango are easy to initiate with one click on your friends’ names from the contact lists, and the calls are exceptionally clear. You can even mute video calls made from Tango or choose to place them on speaker.
More information may be found at http://tango.me/
Please excuse me now as I am going to call my daughter so that I can watch my new grandchild on Tango.
In the meantime, you can watch a video that demonstrates Tango at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ExNsia_BIY or click on the image below.