Free Skype video calls on the HTC EVO 4G thanks to Fring

While all the hype around video calling on the HTC EVO 4G centered around Qik, it was actually Fring who was able to bring us free video calling first. As a bonus, the Fring client serves up the video calling via the Skype network so you can place and receive calls between an Android and desktop PC.

Last Friday, just before I went to the local Sprint store to purchase my own HTC EVO 4G I wrote about the new Qik application for Google Android devices that included video chatting on the HTC EVO 4G. There was a version of Qik that showed up in the Android Market on my Google Nexus One, but not on my EVO 4G. The version for my Nexus One has the new functionality mentioned in my previous post with no support for video chat. I understand that Qik is working to resolve issues and get the promised version up for EVO owners. In the meantime, you can download and install the free Fring application for Google Android that works well on the EVO 4G.

I tried video calling using Fring from my Nokia N97 mini last November in a call to Mickey Papillon via his Mac and Skype. It worked well so I was excited to see it launching on the Android platform. After recording the video below, I made an EVO 4G to EVO 4G video call with Joel and thought the experience was decent. In our first call he was connected via a 3G connection and while the video was pretty good, the voice had major lag in it so it was pretty unusable. When he connected via WiFi the experience was much better. Check out Joel's new post where he talks about his experiences too.

After tapping on a contact in Fring you then have three large buttons (assuming your contact is setup with the necessary network service) to initiate a chat session, place a voice call, or place a video call. After tapping the video icon the person is dialed and then you will see your video appear in the upper right with your other party taking up most of the screen on the left. I could not find any options to use the back camera, but wanted to use the front facing camera anyway to watch the image of the other party. During the call there is an icon to toggle between speakerphone and headset for audio, but I did not have a chance to test out a headset yet.

Fring is an integrated chat and calling client so you can use it to connect with folks using services such as Skype, Google Talk, AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and more. I really like that the video calls are made over the Skype network since that is where most of my friends have accounts and want to make video calls anyway. Once the Qik client comes up I think it will only work for Qik to Qik calls and that is quite a limited market of people to make calls between at this time. Give Fring a try and let me know what you think.