fring has just taken a swing at Google Plus with Playgrounds, a group video chat tool for iOS and Android devices. Playgrounds are four-way open video chat discussions organized around topics. Users can browse open Playgrounds or create their own.Israeli mobile chat startup
Sounds like a four-person Hangout, doesn't it? But the Google Plus open video chat service is still confined to the desktop. Fring keeps pushing mobile video chat forward, and the giants are slow to react.
Face to Face (to Face to Face)
"Playground Video chat empowers users to video & voice their opinions about things that matter to them," says Avi Shechter, CEO and co-founder of fring. "We let users do more than simply 'follow' their interests. Now they can actively engage with others via video chat, instead of waiting for character-constrained updates." That quote takes a shot at just about everybody providing chat-like services on mobile platforms, including Twitter, which seems like a stretch as a fring competitor. But fring clearly believes in mobile video chat as the most human kind of digital interaction.
In June, fring became the world's first group video chat service on mobile devices, beating heavyweights like Skype to the punch. The startup has been around for a relatively long time, mostly making little moves by giving users and developers access to many major text, audio and video chat services at once.
Lately, the company has confronted competitors more directly, implementing cheap voice calling and capitalizing on Skype's constrained group video capabilities. Playgrounds' branding feels like an obvious swipe at Hangouts, but it's apt. Hanging out at your desk is one thing, but with fring on mobile devices, the world is your video chat playground.
Do you use your mobile device for video chat? Would you use it for meeting new people? Sound off in the comments.