FaceTime does what I need and doesn’t require any additional setup. That’s what you’re thinking while looking at Airtime, right? That’s a fair point too. If you just want to video chat to a sole friend and not really do anything else, then FaceTime is just fine. Airtime, however, feels like what Apple’s service should have been all along.
Setup isn’t much hassle at all. Just enter your phone number (which means no iPad support) and complete a quick sign up process. Then you can get inviting friends to join in. The app works on a room basis, having you and your friends all in one private room, before being able to chat to your heart’s content. You don’t all have to be logged in at the same time either, In that way, it works a lot like text based messaging services such as WhatsApp.
Although, when you are active within the app, you can activate the video chat functionality, sharing whatever’s going on around you or simply your face. Multitasking support means you don’t have to have the app open either, with it working in the background as you flick through to a different app.
That all sounds fairly FaceTime-ish, but Airtime has some more tricks up its sleeve. For one thing, you can have six people video chatting as a group at the same time. That’s pretty useful when you’re trying to organize something as it’s so much quicker than typing in messages.
It’s also ideal if a group of you are keen to share some kind of live event unfolding. Can’t all gather at the same house to watch the new Game of Thrones? This goes some way to combatting that issue. That’s easily Airtime’s strength, giving you a sense of community even if your friends aren’t near. A ‘signal’ button gives them a heads up when you’re about to do something important on there too.
Airtime is far from just about video chatting though, which was also where I began to really appreciate its options. Through various connected networks, you can use it to look up YouTube or Spotify clips before sending them over to your chat room. As someone who’s a sucker for a viral video, I found it to be a neat way to send relevant content out to a bunch of friends in one tap. You can use it to send over GIFs courtesy of Giphy too, because who doesn’t love to illustrate their point via the medium of a quirky GIF? For the more intellectual room, there’s Ted talk functionality too.
It’s hard to fault Airtime in terms of functionality. It covers all the bases and a few I hadn’t considered before. Being able to set up numerous different rooms for different subjects was a particularly useful feature for me, given my propensity to be splitting messaging time between personal and business.
The only real catch here is that it means I need to keep another messaging app installed, alongside my regular use of iMessage, Telegram, and WhatsApp. Other than that, it’s a worthy addition to anyone’s social app collection. I’ll certainly be using it to participate in overexcited fangirling chats about my favorite shows.
Airtime is an iOS/Android app that can be downloaded for free from the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.