First Look: 12mail Video Messenger for iPhone

The first time I saw the classic movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," I was 10 years old. If the story and the underlying meaning were confusing to me as a kid, the futuristic technology wasn't, and I liked the video communications devices and the flat Newspad.

It's almost 9 years late (2010), but we finally have a cool way to communicate with video, and it doesn't require using a wall-mounted AT&T pay phone. 12mail Video Messenger [iTunes Link] for iPhone brings clear, fast video messaging to your device in 12-second chunks.

An offshoot of, 12mail Video Messenger grabs up to a 12 second video on the iPhone 3GS and delivers it to your Facebook and Twitter pals with push notification. If your buds don't have 12mail, they can view the video on their Facebook wall or through Twitter.

While there's not a lot you can say in 12 seconds, the app is great for sending friends short video blips, showing them something funny, or inviting them to join you for a drink. Since 12mail uses geolocation, your friends will know just where you sent your message from.

Some folks may wonder about the advantages of 12mail over MMS, particularly since AT&T is supposed to finally "flip the switch" on that service today. Those advantages are the integration with Facebook and Twitter, as well as the fact that this won't use up your text message allotment.

12mail is fairly simple to use, although I had some issues returning a video message to a person who had just been added to my Twitter "following" list. A query to 12mail's tech support got me a quick response, and I found out that I just needed to tap the refresh button in the top left corner of the list of Twitter users to get the latest people that I'm following. One other little bug seems to be that the "tilt iPhone to start recording" function doesn't work, at least not for me. If you don't have an iPhone that supports video recording, you can still record audio and take one picture to illustrate what's going on.

If you're a Twitter or Facebook user, particularly one with an iPhone 3GS, installing 12mail is a no-brainer. It's fun, it's free, and it's a taste of the future. Check out the gallery for some screenshots of 12mail.