Name That App: Tango

Video calls are fun. As the saying goes, once you start you can’t stop. A recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 7 percent of us have placed a video call on our mobile device and 23 percent have done so their desktop or laptop. The mobile industry has been rallying for mobile video calling for years, but nothing has brought it to the fore as much as FaceTime from Apple. In true Apple fashion, the app just simply works. But in equal Apple fashion, FaceTime has its limitations and that’s where apps like Tango come in.

The power of simplicity and ease of use in mobile cannot be overstated. And if Tango is anything, it is simple. This app requires no account, it works via wireless networks (unlike FaceTime’s current reliance on Wi-Fi) and it will work on Apple- and Android-powered devices. When you first pull up the app, Tango asks for three bits of information: your phone number, your name and your e-mail address. This approach lets Tango users find each other based on the contact information they already have on each other without requiring them to share yet another account ID. After entering this information on the app running on an iPhone and Droid X, I didn’t initially see my other device listed as an available contact, but every synched up fine after a contact refresh. Now that the initial contact was established between devices, I always see the other contact in my list waiting to Tango. The video calls work pretty smooth on Tango, but there is some noticeable quality decline when I rely strictly on wireless networks. Regardless, it’s great to have the flexibility to place video calls on whatever connection I have, especially when I can reach iPhone and Android users. Tango’s true success will be measured by scale. And that will be tough because I expect this space to get incredibly crowded over the next couple years. But, if this app can get enough users and if the developers continue to build improvements and compatibility for even more platforms, Tango could become a significant player in the mobile video calling arena.

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Apps and net neutrality make for a symbiotic relationship