AT&T Video Share - Live Video During a Call

AT&T recently launched a service called Video Share that fully takes advantage of their 3G network. As the name implies, you can actually send live video from one Video Share enabled AT&T phone to another. This is the type of thing we've seen in Japan for years now and it's finally migrated stateside. However, from watching the usage videos on the video share site, it is apparent that there are a few issues.

AT&T Video Share - Live Video During a Call

First off, when you are in a call you must manually switch to video share mode which requires a while for the phone to establish a high-bandwidth connection and that's not exactly instant. Then the other party has to accept the video connection. Both sides must be AT&T customers with one of the only few Video Share enabled mobile phones currently offered. Also, when sharing video you must enable speaker phone mode (update: you can also use a Bluetooth earpiece) since you will have the phone out in front of you shooting the video, otherwise you won't be able to hear the other person. Of course, Video Share requires another data package - either an extra 5/month for 25 minutes of Video Share or an extra 10/month for 60 minutes. Then there is the issue of whether the Video Share phones have a decent battery life as I can imagine that transmitting or receiving video over a 3G link is somewhat resource intensive.

AT&T has a YouTube channel with a few videos relating to Video Share, some of them look a bit cheesy but this video shows a possible real world use, long-distance technical troubleshooting. I can see this becoming useful for when my parents need help rebooting the "small box with two antennas sticking out of it" hooked up to the cable modem.

Realistically, it is too early for something like Video Share to be a success. It requires too many variables to all line up perfectly - same network, same type of phone, same data plan, city with coverage, et cetera. However, in 5 years when every telecom provides a reasonably priced service and live video sharing becomes as ubiquitous as SMS, things will be different. Then we will see services like Twitter but with mobile videos posted on the fly and the ability to upload to YouTube on the go. That will also facilitate citizen journalism as well, but not right now. Perhaps even an expanded 911 service where someone can provide a live video stream of an emergency taking place to the authorities or so EMTs can provide accurate assistance until they arrive on the scene, who knows.

At the moment Video Share is in the process of being rolled out to Dallas, Fort Worth and Atlanta, with 160 cities planned by the end of the summer. I just checked and it's not yet active in Atlanta but it is in San Francisco. What do you think of Video Share?

Paul StamatiouPaul Stamatiou

Paul Stamatiou is a designer, developer and photographer living in New York. He has been a product designer at Twitter since 2013. More »

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"AT&T Video Share - Live Video During a Call" by @Stammy