Video Conference from Your Smartphone

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More and more people are using video chats, which led me to hypothesize that video consultations will become more popular in the future.

Skype just unveiled an updated iPhone app that allows users to make video calls over Wi-Fi or 3G. It is not necessarily a game-changer for lawyers, but it has some cool possibilities.

How it works

All you need is a Skype account, an iPhone, and an internet connection (either Wi-Fi or 3G). If you already use Skype on your iPhone, simply press “video call” instead of “call.” The person you are calling can either use an iPhone or the Skype desktop app. Notably, Skype to Skype calls are free.

Similar to Apple’s Facetime application (also free), you can choose which camera feed you send to your recipient (front or rear facing). Unlike Facetime, Skype does not require a Wi-Fi connection.

As of right now, this feature is only available for iPhone users. I have a feeling, however, that it will be available on phones running Android in the near future.

Do not expect crystal clear picture

I have made a couple calls using both Facetime and Skype. It is highly unlikely that you will broadcast or receive a high definition video feed. That said, considering the video is coming from a mobile device, it looks pretty good, all things considered.

Not a game-changer, but still useful

If you are on the move, but still want to talk face to face with a co-worker, you now have that option. This will not happen very often, but it is nice to have that option.

To me, the more useful possibilities involve using support staff, like a paralegal or law clerk, to interview witnesses or examine evidence while you stay in the office. Sure, they could use a laptop, but what if there is no internet connection?

On top of that, it is much easier to use a smartphone like a camera instead of holding up and moving around a laptop. If you have an iPhone and use Skype, give it a shot!

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/umpcportal/4166441660)

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  • Is there really any point to using this if you don’t have a front facing camera? I have an iPhone 3GS and it seems that the video call feature would be useless. Maybe I’m missing something?

    • As I noted in the post, it would be useful for support staff to use as a mobile camera, or if you wanted to send a live transmission.

      • Imagine you do construction defect work, and you have to send a less-experienced associate to a home inspection. They encounter an unfamiliar situation, and aren’t sure they should do expensive destructive testing. Would you rather they Skyped in and showed you what they wanted to do, or do it first? I can think of a lot of similar situations where it would be useful. Not necessary, but useful.

  • Randall just Skyped to Aaron and me from his iPhone over the office wi-fi. It worked really well, actually. Impressive speed. The audio had astonishingly low lag.

    We do meet with clients via Skype occasionally, and this is a nice option to add to our toolkit.

  • Sam-

    Great example. A few years ago, I was that inexperienced associate doing an inspection of a malfunctioning sump pump and had to decide whether or not to do destructive testing. At that time, all I could do was take pictures and video and send via email. Needless to say, it took a lot longer than Skype would have.