Sidecar: Smart Calling For Your SmartphoneBY: Corey Cummings | May 23, 2012
A newly launched app aims to add robust and unique features to the calls you make regularly on your smartphone. Sidecar is a service that enables you to talk for free, sharing phone numbers, locations, and even stream video of your surroundings right within the app.
Sidecar was founded by Rob Glaser, Rob Williams, and Jeff McLeman in 2010. The cofounders originally raised $5 million from Ignition Ventures and the Webb Investment Network to fund a video sharing service called Socialeyes, but quickly saw the need to grow the concept beyond just video.
Sidecar took the most prominent feature of its previous service and put it at the heart of a new app that evolves the phone call. In addition to using the front facing camera to talk face-to-face, you can send live videos from the back-end camera with the “See What I See” feature, available over both Wi-Fi and 3G/4G connections. This feature encourages you to share your surroundings and important live events over the traditional chatting of services like Skype and Facetime.
Other unique features include live photo and contact sharing, in-call text messaging (called Whisper Text), and even location services, which allows users to find one another with GPS and set meeting points within the app. According to Wired, its creators are hoping to continue adding more features into the future.
Signing up for Sidecar only requires your phone number and first name, easily importing all of your contacts directly from your phonebook. Amongst recent concerns over mobile privacy, the app assures you on launch that it’s only accessing phone numbers in your address book to be used within the application. Sidecar enables you to call anyone in your phone book through a Wi-Fi connection for free, or on a 3G/4G network connection where standard rates apply.
Don’t have any friends using Sidecar yet? No need to worry. The service will automatically send a text message to any non-Sidecar users you call within the app, linking them to a download on their smartphone’s respective app store. You can still call anyone you like within the app while you’re waiting for your friends to catch up, but most of its unique sharing features won’t be accessible.
The free app is available now on both iOS and Android devices.