Todd Stabley's Notebook
Qik: free live streaming from your phone

Qik (www.qik.com) is an interesting free tool for live video and audio streaming from your mobile phone. It’s been around for a while but flying to some extent under the radar. I met these guys in late 2008 at a YouTube developer’s conference and thought their product was very cool, and that it would be even more interesting as cell phone video capabilities got better, which we’re finally starting to see.

This past year Qik finally added support for iPhone, which let me give their product a try. The first thing that struck me was how easy it was to get up and running. I set up an account at Qik and had my first live stream going literally in less than 5 minutes. The video quality wasn’t super on my first generation iPhone but actually not as bad as I thought it would be. Frame rates, though, were very slow over my ancient AT&T Edge network—if you’re on 3G I’d like to hear what performance is like for you. Cell phone videos are susceptible to the shakes in a way that makes a camcorder look like a Steadi-cam, so you really have to make an effort to hold the camera still. But the convenience of being able to stream essentially from anywhere is pretty compelling.

If you’re an iPhone user, you just download and install a free app from the App Store. You need a Qik account, but if you don’t already have one you’re immediately presented with a simple interface in the iPhone app for setting one up. I’d be interested to hear from anyone testing on a different phone what your experiences are. For a list of phones supported by Qik at: http://qik.com/phones. Unfortunately, Google’s Nexus One isn’t on the list yet.

You can check out a few sample videos I recorded at: http://qik.com/streamr

Some cool features of Qik:

  • Good image quality via iPhone camera
  • Presents you with an embed link for your videos
  • Saves an on-demand file for each of your broadcasts
  • Integrated chat
  • Facebook integration

A few issues:

  • Frame rates were very low (< 1fps) over Edge network, much better over WiFi
  • Geotagging built in, but likely requires GPS on your phone (my 1st Gen iPhone doesn’t have GPS, and I couldn’t get this feature to work properly)
  • Chat is public, so you’ll need to moderate
  • Would love it if there were a built in editor for trimming your files after you record them