Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Tango Video Calls Make It to the PC — But Are Windows-Only for Now

When Tango first launched a year ago, its big draw was that it could relatively painlessly connect video calls across both Android and iOS platforms over Wi-Fi and cellular networks. In other words, Tango was a more versatile alternative to Apple’s FaceTime.

But what you couldn’t do with Tango is make a video call to a user who wasn’t on a smartphone. And that kind of cripples one of the main values of video calls, which is chatting between family members separated by distance — because seeing someone’s face can be so emotionally resonant. What if your family member doesn’t have a smartphone?

“We thought we could skip the PC generation, but it’s a problem we could not ignore,” Tango co-founder and CTO Eric Setton said in an interview this week. So now, starting today, Tango is coming to the PC.

But here’s the thing: Tango is only for Windows PCs for now. Setton told me that a Mac version is also in the works, and admitted, “It’s crucial that we get it out pretty soon.”

Tango — which has 23 million registered users, with 35 percent of them making calls every month — is also set to be the first video calling service on Windows Phone 7, so it is gradually coming around to its promise of being truly ubiquitous across platforms. Setton said he’d also like to do a Web-based Tango client, but added that he thinks that’s less useful because potential callers would have to keep Tango open in their browsers at all times to receive calls.

Tango is already compatible with all 450 Android and iOS phones and tablets, and each new one as it comes on the market, Setton said.

Tango lives in the system tray on Windows, and calls placed to Tango users who have the software installed on multiple devices will “ring” on all of them. The service doesn’t require logins, passwords or user names, because Setton and his team want it to be easy to use. Instead, Tango asks users to register with their mobile phone numbers as their unique identifiers.

Which is kind of funny for a company that provides an alternative to phone calls and now doesn’t even require phones!

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