Mobile Phone Apps: Qik

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Qik (pronounced Quick) is a video serving website like YouTube, but with client software that installs on your cellphone and allows you to stream ‘live’ video from anywhere. At the moment, Symbian S60 phones (like the ones made by Nokia) are supported, and data is sent even over WiFi or your 3G data network.

I just got in on the alpha test program tonight (you can sign up at qik.com), and so far it’s been working great. There’s a delay of about 5-10 seconds, but that’s really ok. The video appears ready for playback on Qik’s website almost immediately, in a Flash player much like the ones used by YouTube, GameTrailers, and so on. Once the recording stops, the streaming video is replaced by a recorded copy stored on Qik’s servers, which can then be replayed at any time.

I’ve also found competing products by ComVu and Flixwagon (also in alpha). ComVu’s PocketCaster software has been selected for use by Reuters, and appears to add even more features like GPS location mapping. It appears to have been in beta testing for awhile but hasn’t made much of a splash. Charges will probably come into effect after the product is finished. ComVu and Flixwagon both allow you to tag and name your videos straight from the phone, something Qik requires you to do on the website.

Qik’s lack of features (which common-folk users will correctly interpret as simplicity), and catchier name will probably lead to it being the standard for live mobile-to-web videocasting. It’s happened before with products like the Flip Video camcorder and Nintendo DS. Either way, mobile data plans are becoming cheaper and more popular than ever, and I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more street journalism beyond cellphone camera snaps and lifecasting like iJustine in 2008.

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