A new service coming online soon may have us hearing the phrase "Quick, take out your cell phone!" a little more often. I suppose it was just a matter of time before somebody came up with a way to stream cell-phone video to the Web and store it there. That company, Qik, Inc., yesterday opened for beta testing its Web service to allow camera-equipped phone users to "share moments of your life with your friends, family and the world." The service was introduced in a private alpha program late last year, and now includes numerous usability improvements to what is a slick and handsome Website.
Pronounced "quick," the company puts on its front page stats on the number of live "Qiks" currently being streamed, how many were added recently and shows one along with a Google-Map with a pointer to its country of origin. They've also added thumbnails of videos a la YouTube which can launch a redesigned player with chat capability.
The Qik beta has also expanded its list of supported handsets to about 30, adding more Symbian and Windows Mobile devices and as well as models from Motorola and Samsung. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are all on board. Also, you can now sign up without a compatible phone, but some phone is required to receive confirmation. Also new is support for distributing Qik videos via Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut. Other improvements include decreased lag time-- to as little as half a second, by some reports. Users can subscribe to favorite "Qikkers" via RSS, create groups for video distribution and events for inviting people to join.
If you thought your kids cell phone changes are high now, wait until they start streaming video. Cell phones can now be used like a camcorder, says Qik, streaming hours and hours of video without worrying about storage on the phone. While the Qik service itself is free, significant streaming changes apply, depending on your carrier. The minimum age for using Qik is 13.
I'll leave issues of privacy to the lawyers.