Social networks aiming to change the way we communicate are everywhere. Messaging applications that want to do it all are also spreading like wildfire. With Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat taking a big piece of the cake, it's hard for a service to differentiate itself, but Airtime manages to do just that.
The app started 4 years ago as a web service, but faced lots of technical difficulties so its founder Sean Parker shut it down and started working in the background on something better. Now Airtime is launching on both iOS and Android and it's doing a lot of cool things. The premise is simple: Airtime wants to be a virtual room where you and your friends can hang out. You can pop in and notify them that you're around or you can "signal" for them to join you when you have something interesting to share.
That can be anything from videos to gifs to music to photos. Airtime currently natively supports YouTube (and YouTube Live), Vimeo, Spotify, Giphy, TED, iHeart, Vevo, and SoundCloud. There's no TV streaming option there, but Airtime says it's working on that. Friends can experience things together and anyone can activate the front camera while watching or listening to share their expression with the rest of the group. Basically, it's like hanging out together in real life, except it's happening through a screen.
Airtime also supports video chats with up to 6 people and is particularly proud of the work it has done on the infrastructure to make these instantaneous, clear, and lightweight. The goal is to make video chat more about impromptu moments than about preplanned and scheduled sessions.
Airtime is carrying a "beta" tag on the Play Store, and for now the reviews seem to veer toward the positive end of the scale. It remains to be seen whether this will be a short-lived fad or if it will stick this time around. Pop into the Play Store's room and signal your interest at the link below.