Airtime is a new video chat software that adds a whole new dimension to the video chat experience. Developed by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, the brains behind Napster, this software lets you connect to both friends and strangers on the social networking giant, Facebook. But whats different and striking is the fact that you’re matched with someone who has some similarities with you- like same city, common interests and probably same views. The software does the work of overlapping these informations and uses it so that you can branch out to anyone and increase your online social circle. With a ‘talk to someone ‘ button you could end up talking to anyone. Those who love mixing with others and are cool with making new friends on the net, this is just the thing.
Airtime is a “frictionless experience” . All you have to do is, head to the Airtime website, click on “Launch Airtime,” and subsequently authorize your Facebook account (this only needs to happen once per computer), and then give Adobe Flash permission to use your webcam. There’s no app to install, and since it’s tied to Facebook, you don’t have to deal with signing up for an entirely new service.
Once logged in, you’re introduced to a simple interface showing your video feed on the left, along with your name and interests. Of course you can choose which interests to display and what not to display to people you call, and you can also add new interests to your profile by clicking the “Edit” button next to your name. The center portion of the screen is reserved for the person you’re chatting with, while the right side contains all of your friends currently logged into Facebook.
You can quickly start a video chat with one of your friends by clicking on their names, but as i said the real meat of the service is using the giant “Talk to Someone” button to start searching for a random chat buddy. You can choose to focus on people nearby, those with common interests, and friends of friends (or any combination of those three). If you are observant enough you might probably find out why the pairing has been done.
The video and audio quality are quite good enough for to have a decent conversation. What’s most important is that the basics of the service — finding people to talk to, making successful calls — works well, and is hassle free.
Although Chatroulette and google+ hangouts are out there, Airtime is a definite refinement of the social video chat formula. The only question now is whether it will see a viral growth or just fade away. But as the Airtime community expands, and it gets more features to truly make the Internet social again, I have a feeling that it will become an essential tool for many. And given that it solves a major problem for Facebook (by offering a fun way to meet new people), I wouldn’t be surprised if Zuckerberg wasn’t already considering a buyout. Anyway with this software its the fun that matters. So hop in and enjoy the unknown ride.