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Streaming video from your iPhone? They crippled the app for that.

Mel Martin

Qik [iTunes link] is an eagerly awaited free app for the iPhone. Most other video capable phones have a version of it. Qik allows, among other things, live streaming from your phone to the web. How could someone not want that capability? Early on, Qik offered a version for jailbroken phones that worked quite well.

Well of course, we've learned that what can run on other smartphones may not necessarily make it to the iPhone, and predictably the App Store version has been crippled. You can record video, upload video (Wi-Fi only) but no streaming or uploading over the 3G network. In fact, you can't even live stream over WiFi.

I'm sure doing all this this violates the hastily revised terms of service from AT&T. It still grates that the phone that is helping to save AT&T financially has its users abused by having lesser services than other phones that are allowed on the same network.

Of course, if video streaming is forbidden, what about YouTube and MLB At Bat [iTunes link], that streams two live games a day? And what about the SlingPlayer app, that is allowed to stream across the cellular data network on other AT&T phones but only over Wi-Fi on the iPhone? I know, there are so many iPhones that it would swamp the inadequate AT&T network, but what did AT&T expect when they fought so hard to get the iPhone? Do they really think streaming by a few Slingbox users or Qik addicts will ever top the bandwidth stats of the baseball app?

Today Qik added this to its website: "We've submitted an update to the App Store which will have it working over 3G networks, too. We'll let you know as soon as that upgrade has been cleared. " I wouldn't hold my breath on that one, and it isn't clear if it's just for uploading or live streaming.

The Qik app works fine as far as it goes. I shot some video, and uploaded it to the Qik site after creating an account. The video was pretty compressed, but that's to be expected. It's a nice app, but without the main feature of live streaming it doesn't add much to what the iPhone 3GS can already do. The iPhone as-is allows you to send short videos via email, YouTube and MobileMe using the 3G network. Go figure.

The FCC is looking into all this, and the AT&T and Apple answers will be interesting. iPhone owners don't want to be treated like second class citizens, and as this farce continues that's what it is beginning to look like. If I could, I would require Apple and AT&T execs to take a look at the famous Apple 1984 commercial and decide if they are the one throwing the hammer, or if they are on the screen.

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