‘Tango’ Video Chat Gets a PC App to Take On Skype

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Tango has launched a PC app, giving desktop and laptop users a new way to video chat with their smartphone-toting friends. The app is available free for Windows PCs from Tango’s website.

Although several other video chat apps exist already for smartphones—Fring and Qik among them—rare is the service that allows PC-to-smartphone or PC-to-tablet video chat. Tango is basically Skype’s scrappy underdog competitor, with 23 million worldwide users compared to Skype’s user base of 170 million. Google’s also moving in on this territory with Google+ hangouts.

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I like Tango’s PC software, which is meant to look like a virtual version of its smartphone app. Everything in the app borrows liberally from iPhone design elements, from the bottom row of navigation buttons to the alphabetized contact list to the sliding buttons in the options menu. The result is an app that feels less bloated than Skype at the expense of extra features like file sharing and instant messages.

The biggest challenge for Tango, I think, will be to overcome the name recognition and widespread use of Skype. Tango’s plan is to get on new devices faster, with software updates every two weeks to ensure compatibility. (Tango’s available on more than 450 devices now, and will be the first video chat app available for Windows Phones.) The company also tries to remove the friction of signing up, requiring only a name, e-mail address and phone number. No login or password are required.

I still wish there were more ways to add contacts within Tango. Currently, the app scans your phone’s contact list to see who else is using Tango, but the only other way to add contacts is to create them manually. Facebook integration would be nice, but Eric Setton, Tango’s co-founder and chief technical officer, told Techland that it’s not a high priority right now.

At the moment, the company is focused on monetizing, and plans to launch a premium version of the service by year-end. Setton said all of the Tango features available today will remain free, so users can keep chatting away without artificial restrictions.

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