Fring released an update Thursday for its iPhone app that brings group video chat to the service. You can now use Fring to chat with up to three friends (for a total of four people) over 3G and Wi-Fi. Android users can also get in on the action, using Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G and both platforms can talk to each other. Fring had been testing the group video chat feature in limited beta since the beginning of April.
Fring is the first app that brings group video chat to the iPhone(s aapl), beating out industry leaders like Skype, and also Apple itself. Code found in FaceTime for iPhone seems to indicate that Apple plans to eventually roll out group video chat for the service, but for the time being, Fring gets to be the only game in town (for iOS; there’s a group video chat for Android and Mac/PC called Oovoo). Best of all, video calling is completely free with Fring. Enabling group video chat in the Skype desktop client requires a paid premium account.
Group video chat may not be a feature many users find themselves pining for just yet, but if you do happen to need it, not having a mobile option is a considerable drag. And even if not many users actually take advantage of Fring video calls, the company still scores a significant victory just by being first to market, especially in a field like video calling, which is expected to become huge in the next few years, especially on mobile devices. That Fring also managed to bring cross-platform support for the two biggest mobile operating systems out of the gate at feature launch is also no small victory.