If you're looking to make a video call on your mobile device, there are no shortage of options available today. Google's Hangouts, Microsoft's Skype, and Apple's FaceTime all offer usable video calling experiences. Despite this, Spin, a new app for iOS launching today, is giving users yet another option for video calling.
Spin uses proprietary technology to offer what it says is "the best-combined audio, video, voice, image and touch quality that exists today." The Human Fidelity technology is a product of four years of development, and offers ultra wideband, 44kHz audio, the best video quality a device can support, and full 60 frames per second interface animation. Spin says that the audio in its video chats are close to recording studio quality.
Like Hangouts, Spin can support up to 10 users at the same time, in what it refers to as Gatherings. Users can import photos and videos from Facebook, YouTube, or their camera roll, which they can share with the group and interact with. Any user in a video call can play, pause, or fast forward a video that is shared, and each user has the ability to tweak the volume mix between participants chatting and the video playback to their own preference. Participants can also play around with effects such as simulated tomato tossing, paper airplanes, vuvuzela horns, and collaborative drawing.
The whole interface of Spin is gesture based, with swoopy animations and drag and drop actions everywhere you turn. You can add users to a video chat by dragging their avatars onto the open Gathering, or you can send "Spinvitations", which will ping others with a push notification to join an ongoing or scheduled call. Exiting a call is done by dragging your avatar off of the group.
The experience of participating in a video call on Spin is pretty impressive: video and audio quality were both quite good, provided you have enough bandwidth between your participants, and there are some really smart features built in (for example, if someone is speaking and you want to make them louder, you just use a pinch-zoom gesture to make their image larger, which will increase their volume). It's best used on an IPad, where you have more room to perform the various gestures and see all of the participants involved. Unfortunately, we didn't find the gesture-based interface to be very intuitive, and there is a bit of a learning curve before you understand how to fully navigate the app. Additionally, since sharing is limited to photos and videos, it's not possible to collaborate on files or share a screencast through the app — necessary features for most business users.
Spin could be a powerful tool for businesses, but for now, it's only launching on the iPhone and iPad. It's hard to imagine that most consumers would want to bother with downloading a new app and creating a whole new account for it when their devices have built-in video calling out of the box. With its fast performance and apparently solid backend, Spin does have potential, but right now it's straddling the line of consumer and business needs, without really servicing either one to its fullest.