Hands-on With Tango: Video Calls on iOS, Android Gadgets

Video calls are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends while traveling. Recently I tried Tango, and found it to be a solid performer on both Android and iOS.

Video calls are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends while traveling, but my experience with different methods on the Android platform has been a mixed bag. Recently I tried Tango, and find it to be a solid performer over Wi-Fi, 3G and Sprint's 4G network. The ability to make video calls to both Android phones and iOS devices is a big plus.

My wife is a true BlackBerry addict. I've been trying to get her interested in other smartphones for a long time, as I knew that once she experienced the web on a "real" gadget she'd be hooked. My attempts to expose her to other phones has failed dismally, so this holiday season I tried a different tactic. I bought her an iPod Touch for Christmas, and she admits she is in love with the little web device. It only works over Wi-Fi, but she carries it everywhere with her and it is now more common to see her with the iPod Touch in hand than her BlackBerry Curve, a major milestone.

We have used Apple's FaceTime to make video calls from my Mac to her iPod Touch, and it works well. Unfortunately it requires Apple products on both ends of the call, and I use an EVO 4G phone and the Galaxy Tab, which cannot do FaceTime. This led me to try Tango, and I'm glad I did.

Tango is a free app in the Android Market and the iTunes App Store that once installed makes video calling very simple. It works much like FaceTime, as Tango calls require both parties on a call to have Tango installed. A very nice touch is once Tango is installed it searches through the user's contact list on the phone to determine which of them have already installed Tango. The contact list within the Tango app then shows all contacts with whom you can make Tango calls via a simple tap on the screen. I was surprised to see how many of my contacts have Tango installed. There is an invite button to send an email to those who haven't installed Tango, providing them a link to download the app.

Tango can make audio and video calls to anyone using the app, so it is possible to make them cross platform. The ability to make video calls from my Android devices to my wife on the iPod Touch is a great boon to us, and we find it a cool way to keep in touch. Video quality is decent, if not quite as good as FaceTime, and audio is excellent. Video can be toggled off and on at whim during a call, and on devices with both a front and rear camera those can be toggled as well.

We are quite impressed with using Tango to keep in touch, and find it to be a good free solution for video calling. Calls have worked consistently over Wi-Fi, 3g and the Sprint 4G network on the HTC EVO 4G. Making video calls on my Galaxy Tab with its 7-inch screen is particularly impressive. I recommend giving Tango a try to see how it works for your video calling needs. I find it works better than Qik and Fring, two common Android apps used for video calling.