App allows in-call image and location sharing. Sound like RCS already?
An app that allows users to share location, photos and contact details within a call has been launched by Thrutu, a company spun out of MetaSwitch and backed by VC giant Sequoia.
The app, called Thrutu, is currently available for Android devices, and its maker will seek certification for iPhone and Blackberry devices – with an iPhone app expected by Q2 2011. As Thrutu is a subsidiary of Metaswitch, which markets SIP session routers, softswitches, media gateways, service brokers and app server products to carriers, the company is also intending to offer the app as a carrier-branded app to operators.
Thrutu said that its app allows users to share their location, take and share a photo, send contact information and “prod” the other caller with remote phone vibration. Both parties on the call must have the app enabled, of course, for the functions to work. When you download the app, Thrutu prods you to invite another friend or user to download the app.
In future releases, Thrutu envisages being able to allow users to connect to their favourite social media channels, play games (and “competitively banter”) mid-call, plan events or coordinate social activities, share video in real-time, develop a whole range of new “buttons” to enrich the conversation.
If some of these sound a little like RCS-type capabilities, without the RCS or the cross-device interoperability, that’s because they are. But there are significant differences. The biggest, as mentioned, is full interoperability. That said, Liz Rice, VP of Thrutu, said that a user with the app on an Android device will be able to interoperate with a Blackberry or iPhone user, and so on.
The other, more strategic, difference is that if apps like it were to be widely accepted, they could cut the operator out of any upsell or customer-retention benefit of offering RCS-like services in a client-to-network controlled manner. However, Thrutu’s parent company Metaswitch has said that operators will be able to access a carrier-branded app to deploy across their own device portfolio.
Rice also said that although it didn’t have RCS in mind when it began developing the app, it began to see “interesting parallels with RCS” and now has interoperabilty with RCS clients “on the roadmap”.
The app works by gaining access to the location, presence and telephony applications on the phone, so that when a call is made it can set up a simultaneous data connection to allow the non-voice element of the call. There is no network or server-side capability required, according to Thrutu’s Rice.
View ThruTu’s promotional video here