Mobile video calling, as my colleague Kevin Tofel points out, can be a powerful experience. The problem, however, is that it’s not always a very spontaneous thing. With all the restrictions and hurdles attached, mobile video calling is often a measured process that falls short of achieving its full potential. It doesn’t happen anywhere and any time we want it to, which is a key tenet of this mobile era.
That’s the hole that Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Tango hopes to fill. The company is trying to blend the ease of use of Apple’s (s aapl) FaceTime with the broader power and flexibility of mobile apps like Fring and Qik. In the process, it’s aiming to build something that goes beyond the limitations of existing video calling apps. FaceTime is only available through iOS devices and only works over Wi-Fi. Qik allows you to connect over 3G but it currently only works via Android devices with front-facing cameras. Fring enables video calls between iOS and Android devices and works over 3G, but it requires you to create a profile and is a little more complex than Tango.
Tango still suffers from uneven picture quality at times, but solutions like Tango are going to be crucial to popularizing mobile video calling, which is still too shackled by limitations. As we start to eliminate some of these hangups and make the process of initiating and receiving a call dead simple and accessible anywhere, then we can start to think about mobile video chatting becoming a mainstream phenomenon.
Tango, which is led by Uri Raz and Eric Setton, recently closed a round of $5 million in funding from investors Bill Hambrecht, Michael Birch, Bill Tai, and Daniel Scheinman.
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