Phone calls have pretty much been the same since the advent of the telephone. You make a call and you converse. Only the basic exchange of auditory communications goes on. I know today there are apps that communicate in many other ways, such as face-to-face video calls (Skype and the like), but the everyday phone call remains the same.
The creators of the Sidecar app have something to say about that though. Sidecar, and the sharing it enables during phone calls, has the potential to change the way we think of phone calls altogether. Imagine being able to share photos, video, contacts, and even your location all during a phone call. Sidecar makes that possible.
As you’ll be able to see, if some of the tools that Sidecar offers take off, the phone call could be changed forever.
Free Calls Over Wi-Fi
Let’s start with Wi-Fi calling. There have been ways and apps that make this possible already but Sidecar makes it super simple: calls to other Sidecar users are free, anywhere in the world, and you connect directly through the app. All your friends using Sidecar show up in your Friends list.
Sidecar friends list
However, you can also make free calls over Wi-Fi using Sidecar to any phone number in your contacts, as long as it’s in the US or Canada.
Sidecar - contacts
Share Stuff While on a Phone Call
Free calls are cool and all that, but what really sets Sidecar apart from the traditional phone call is the ability to share stuff during a call.
Have you ever been on a call and had to give the person you’re talking to a phone number? This happens all the time and the usual solution is to either put the other person on hold while you look through your contacts and try to read it off to them as they listen and write it down, or end the call altogether and call or text them back.
Sidecar - contact received
With Sidecar, you can share the contact right through the app.
Probably the most used way of sharing photographs over the phone is via MMS. Yes you can send a picture message while on a call, but Sidecar makes this simple as well. In fact, you can even snap a pic while on the call and have it sent immediately.
Sidecar - photo received
If you’re making plans to meet someone, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to easily share either where you are or where you want to meet? With Sidecar you can do just that: send a handy map either showing your own location or a chosen meeting place.
Sidecar - send location
What Else Can Sidecar Do?
There are a few more tools that Sidecar offers that make it very useful.
First, you can share a video feed directly from your camera. It’s called “See what I can see” and it’s supposed to be a way of sharing what’s going on around you.
Personally, I had trouble with this tool, partly because of a weak Wi-Fi signal (on the other person’s side), and partly because the app had a hard time recognizing my phone’s camera (HTC Evo 4G). However, it worked fine on other phones.
Sidecar - whisper
Second, Sidecar has a feature they call Whisper. Whisper is basically texting while on the call. This means that you can be sharing stuff while not talking out loud but still communicating. This could come in handy in places where silence is important, such as the library.
After spending some time testing Sidecar, I would have to say that it is very good in theory. It has some polishing that needs to be done but the idea is a great one. Here are a few issues I saw:
Stability: Every so often the app would crash. I’m not sure if it was my phone or just a fluke, but it became frustrating several times.
Needs a strong Wi-Fi connection: Sidecar worked over 3G but not particularly well. Also, if the Wi-Fi signal is weak, you’ll have some issues.
Camera issues: As mentioned earlier, my phone’s camera wasn’t recognized when trying to utilize the “See what I can see” tool. I understand it’s difficult for developers because of all the different types of Android devices out there, but this must be worked on before the app takes off for real.
After all of that is said, the app really is a cool idea and many of the tools did work well. Don’t let the negatives keep you from trying it for yourself. Also, if you do run into technical difficulties (such as my camera issue), the developers should be open to hearing about them so they can be worked on.
Sidecar, and all the ideas it entails, is revolutionary in the way phone calls are made. Many activities that are often difficult to do while on the phone, but are still often done on the phone, are made a whole lot simpler using Sidecar.
With a simple way to make free VoIP calls, along with the ability to share photos, videos, locations, and contacts, Sidecar is an awesome idea and should turn into a really good app.