When entering the BlogHaus suite over three years ago at CES 2008, I quickly learned I had to be careful with my activities as Robert Scoble was running around with a Nokia N95 recording short video clips(and sometimes “instant” interviews) using a newly launched service called Qik. The basic idea was that (1) you could record a video on a smartphone for archiving on the web and (2) during the recording period the video was also being live streamed via the Qik website.
Fast forward three years later when Qik supported a broad range of smartphones, had probably millions of video clips archived and was developing an comprehensive iPhone offering. At the Skype press conference at CES 2011, Skype announced the acquisition of Qik. This past two weeks has seen the launch of two iPhone apps: the premium ($2.99) Qik Connect Video PLUS (at SXSW 2011) and, last week, the free app Qik Video Connect.
- Video Chat: a one-to-one video calling service over WiFi, 3G and 4G
- Video Streaming: Live stream a video to the net via the Qik website with promotion via Twitter and Facebook
- Video Mail: record and email a video message.
All videos are also archived at Qik for private or public viewing. And, within the iPhone app, their availability can be sent out over Twitter and Facebook; they can also be sent to the iPhone’s Camera Roll (video/photo library). In fact, there is even an option to send it to YouTube.
- Real-time effects: Customize and enhance video chat and live video streaming with seven effects and filters.
- Video editing: Use simple video editing tools directly from your device to share the best moments.
- HD quality: Upload and share true HD quality videos captured on your phone.
The Real-time effects are created by using the image bar at the bottom of the picture to turn the video being seen to full color, black and white, sepia and five other “effects”. When you End a Video Chat session, an editing bar appears across the top of the screen; it can also be recalled for later editing from the My Videos icon on the Home screen menu.
Some screen shots:
Qik Video Connect Contacts are those amongst your iPhone Contacts who have the same mobile or iPhone number as they have registered with their Qik account; a green webcam indicates that the Contact has Qik Video Connect installed and is available to receive a call. (You can receive a call while in another iPhone application.) Note that as I already had a Qik account, I did not have to use the registration procedure available on the application yet I could pull up and view previously archived videos.
In the center image, Phil Wolff was receiving the call and used his rear facing camera to catch our simultaneous Skype video conversation on his PC screen. I was using the “front” facing camera on my iPhone 4. The right image shows not only the option to do further editing but also the many ways a video can be shared or distributed.
And a short clip on YouTube:
If there is one concern, it’s about the user interface, not for the screens, but rather for the random way in which some screens come up. For instance, sometimes when I asked for the Connect screen (showing the Contacts) I would get a screen asking me to Invite contacts – and it would act as if I had no Contacts. Touching other Home menu items and then going back to the Connect screen would bring up the Contacts but there appeared to be no logic as to why this was happening. Also the process of showing webcam presence in the Contacts screen was sometimes not in accord with what I knew Phil was doing at the other end (for instance, I knew he was trying to call me, yet I would see his webcam as gray). Also I have yet to discover what is meant by “HD Quality”; certainly the video was not 720p HD resolution (1280 x 720).
Bottom line: While Qik certainly has developed an appealing application that demonstrates not only video messaging, streaming and archiving but also the video technology that Skype acquired with the Qik acquisition. Questions have to arise as to where Skype will apply the technology. Will it be used to improve the resolution of Skype video calling on the iPhone and Android? Will Qik Video Connect add Skype contacts to its “Connect” contacts list? What does Skype gain in terms of transmitting video at top quality over 3G and 4G networks? Will Qik’s technology be used for recording Skype video calls? (And I’m sure there lots of other questions.)
And one other note: There are now at least three video calling offerings for the iPhone: Facetime (calls over WiFi to other iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac users); Skype for iPhone (calls to Skype clients on multiple platforms over WiFi and 3G but at lower resolutions than Facetime) and Qik Video Connect’s video chat (calls over WiFi and 3G/4G between iPhones and iPod Touch where also video “mail” messages can be left and calls are archived).
- Qik Free available in the US iTunes store (skypejournal.com)
- Handheld HD with Qik Video Connect Plus (insideview.ie)
- Qik unveils Qik Video Connect for iPhone, offers real-time filters and effects (thenextweb.com)
- Qik technologies should flow to Skype users (skypejournal.com)