Smartphones have revolutionized how we communicate and the way we create, share and consume content. Yet there's one aspect of using these devices that remains stuck in the last millennium, and that's the calling experience -- yes, apparently some people still make phone calls. Sure, there are plenty of VoIP and video calling apps out there, but few are simple and beautiful.
Enter Sidecar, a free app which aims to reinvent the way we make phone calls by adding messaging as well as real-time video, photo, location and contact sharing to that antiquated calling experience. It achieves this through an intuitive and polished user interface plus a handful of standards such as SIP and XMPP. Phone calls between Sidecar users are free anywhere in the world -- the app even supports free WiFi calling to any number in the US or Canada.
While Sidecar's been available in beta on Android for several weeks, it's launching on iOS today with support for the iPhone and iPod touch. We've been using the app on and off for a few days on several handsets, including a Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ and an iPhone 4S and it works exactly as described. Looking for additional details? Check out the demo video and full PR after the break.
Sidecar for iOS
Sidecar Revolutionizes Phone Calls by Bringing "Smart Calling" to Smartphones
First app to re-imagine phone calls for smartphones makes calling and sharing live See What I See video, photos, contacts and locations easy and fun for iOS and Android users
SAN FRANCISCO – May 22, 2012 – Launching today, Sidecar (www.sidecar.me) is a new mobile app that brings Smart Calling to smartphones. Smart Calling allows people to share live See What I See video, brilliant photos, contact information, and locations, all while they talk. The Sidecar app is free to use and download from Apple's App Store (http://itunes.com/apps/sidecarme) or Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.sidecar&hl=en).
In addition, people can call anyone in the U.S. or Canada for free, even if the recipient of the call is not a Sidecar user. When the call ends, the recipient will receive a text message inviting them to join Sidecar.
"Until now, voice calling has sat in a silo by itself. People who wanted to do more than talk had to toggle back and forth between voice calls and whatever else they wanted to share with the person they were calling," said Rob Williams, chief executive officer of Sidecar. "Sidecar tears down these barriers and lets people easily share live video, location, photos, and contacts while they talk. The result is a more fun, engaging, and expressive conversation."
With Sidecar, people can call and share:
- See What I See Video: Sidecar users can share amazing real-time videos of what's happening around them.
- Photos: Sidecar users can snap brilliant pictures, or share photos from their phone's library, instantly with other Sidecar users.
- Locations: Sidecar lets users look at an interactive map, see where they are in relation to the person they're calling, and share locations to meet up.
- Contact Information: Sidecar lets users pass along and integrate contacts from their phone's address book.
- Whisper Text: Send a private text message to another Sidecar user during a call, and keep the conversation going when it's hard to talk.
And, the price is unbeatable:
- Sidecar users can call anywhere in the world for free: As long as both parties are using the Sidecar app, users can talk as long as they like for free.
- Sidecar users can call anyone in the U.S. or Canada for free over Wi-Fi: The person you're calling doesn't need to have the app. When you call, they'll receive a text message telling them how to download Sidecar so next time you can use Sidecar's exclusive Smart Calling features.
"There has been tremendous innovation in smartphones in every area except the basic phone call," said Rob Glaser, chairman and co-founder of Sidecar. "Over 800 million people around the world have smartphones; the time is right to re-imagine what a phone call can be. That's the mission of Sidecar."
How People Can Use Sidecar
Here are some examples of how people can use Sidecar today:
- The Scouting Party – When you find that perfect party or nightspot, Sidecar makes it easy to report back to your friends and get them to join you. Just put yourself at the center of the fun and turn on video sharing. Seeing is believing, and nothing makes it easier to see what's happening than Sidecar. When your friends are ready to rally, just share your location and Sidecar will lead them right to you.
- The Handyman – Your new apartment is great, but you just can't figure out how to get that pipe under the sink to stop leaking. No problem. Just call Dad on Sidecar and flip on video sharing. He can see what you see – and even what you missed – like that loose washer you forgot to tighten. Missing a part? You can snap and share a picture, so Dad can stop at the hardware store before he visits next weekend.
- The Shopping Trip – Since your best friend moved, it's been hard to stay connected. She's in New York and you're in San Francisco, but today you're both going shopping. Turn on video sharing and you can show her what you see while walking through your favorite store. You can turn on Whisper mode, so she can give you her honest opinion without others hearing. Being able to hear what she thinks, even though you're thousands of miles apart, makes you feel more connected than ever.
Sidecar Pricing & Availability
For iPhone, iPod Touch and Android users, Sidecar is free to download in Apple's App Store (http://itunes.com/apps/sidecarme) or Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.sidecar&hl=en). Calls to other Sidecar users are free anywhere in the world. Calls to regular phone numbers in the U.S. and Canada are free over Wi-Fi. Standard carrier data charges will apply when the app is used over 3G / 4G.
Sidecar is based in San Francisco and Seattle. Launched as SocialEyes in 2011, the company pivoted to Sidecar in response to the rapid adoption of smartphones and the opportunity to create a better calling experience. Sidecar founders, Rob Williams, Rob Glaser and Jeff McLeman all share extensive backgrounds in mobile, communications and consumer products. Sidecar is backed by Ignition Partners, The Webb Investment Network, Rob Glaser and other prominent individual investors.