By Ian Graham
I’ve never been much of a video-chatter, but this caught my attention right before New Year’s weekend: Skype, the free web-based chat application, has updated the iPhone version of their popular service to include free video chat.
Skype is already pretty well-known for giving iPhone users new ways to take advantage of Apple’s technological developments. Apple’s FaceTime app and self-facing camera was a highly anticipated update as the iPhone 4’s release approached and it started a race to see what could be done in video sharing and conferencing with Apple and AT&T’s infrastructure.
Skype’s new video service is compatible with any current Skype software from Linux, Windows, Mac (including iPhone, iPad and newer iPod touch models) and ASUS video phones.
You won’t be chatting in HD – Skype’s video chat on iPhone comes in at 320-by-240 resolution, at up to 15 frames per second with the best WiFi or 3G connection. That being said, reviewers have been impressed with the quality of the user experience.
With the Army considering adding iPhones and Android smartphones to the list of standard-issue material for Soldiers and many service members bringing their personal gear with them on deployments, this could have major implications for communications, both internally and from service member to friend or family.
For starters, this could mean that a service member and his or her spouse don’t have to schedule a time of day at odd hours to video chat using two computers. If the deployed has a chance to use a computer or make a call for a few minutes, their companion at home can take the video call on the go.
It also could make video conferencing (you know, video chatting, except at work) cheaper and easier, as well as providing a way for troops in the field to connect to leadership. Want to know what conditions are like on the ground? All it will take is a few minutes to get a real-time visual. Of course there will be OPSEC concerns to be addressed, but the opportunities are intriguing.
Do you use Skype, FaceTime, or other video chat services? Share your thoughts on the new update and its possible military applications in the comments; we’d love to hear them!