Since the launch of their Facebook app last August, interactive video chat service Rounds has emerged as one of the best places to chat, play games, interact and have fun with your friends on Facebook. In five short months the application already boasts 300,000 monthly active users and Rounds is celebrating with the launch of a brand new video chat feature called Random Rounds that lets users interact with randoms on Facebook. It’s like Chatroulette only a whole lot less icky and a whole lot more fun!
Over the weekend I visited Rounds headquarters in Tel Aviv and had the opportunity to talk to Rounds Founder and CEO Dany Fishel and Marketing Manager Natasha Shine. Dany and Natasha demoed the product for me and showed me some of the newer games and features as well. If you aren’t familiar with Rounds, check out the short demo video below. The video is from the Facebook app’s launch back in August, so it doesn’t include the newer features, but it still gives you a good idea of how the platform works.
What the video doesn’t show is all the cool interactive things you can do with your friends while you chat on Rounds, from watching YouTube videos together, browsing Flickr pictures, writing Facebook status updates together, taking snapshots, and playing all sorts of fun games from Truth or Dare to Space Invaders, Tetris, Pick Up Sticks and more. They also told me that they’ve got a Pac-Man game coming soon. Many of these exciting popular games have been made possible through Rounds partnership with Dassa Games, an Israeli game development company, and they also have opened their platform to developers. However, Dany made it clear that despite their great game selection Rounds does not aim to be a gaming company. Rather, they are doing as much as they can to improve and perfect the interactive video chat experience, and I think they’re definitely on the right track, especially with the recent launch of Random Rounds.
Dany says, “We believe that Random Rounds offers users a unique experience by allowing members of any age, from any country, to play, share and create memorable photo booth snapshots while meeting someone new. Whether it be through the different activities, the interactive features, or the social matching mechanism that we’ve created, Video Chat Rounds bridges the gap between the offline and online worlds and continues to connect users in a more personal, emotional and memorable way.”
For now Random Rounds is pairing up users based on their age, but they plan create and utilize additional matching options in the future. Something that I think is quite cool as well is that when you chat with random strangers using the Video Chat Rounds application you will be provided with tips about the person you are talking to such as their interests and questions to keep the conversation going.
But as with every random chat service out there people are bound to have concerns about the types of people that may end up on the other end of their chat. These concerns have grown of course as a result of sites like Chatroulette where it is more common to wind up talking to some creep with his pants around his ankles than a friendly face. So naturally, one of my biggest questions for Dany and Natasha was how they are keeping Rounds clean and what they are doing to maintain the privacy and security of their users. They are taking a number of precautions:
- For starters, members real names and a link to their Facebook account is shown, so Random Rounds is not anonymous like Chatroulette.
- To deter users from creating fake Facebook profiles to surf Random Rounds anonymously, only users with more than 100 Facebook friends are able to use the Random Rounds service. If you’ve got less than 100 Facebook friends you can only chat with your friends.
- Members are only connected to other users within their same age group.
- Rounds also utilizes a powerful reporting mechanism to single out the bad users. If you abuse the system and are reported then you risk being blocked permanently from Rounds and will be reported to Facebook and risk losing your account.
Check out a couple of user snapshots from the Facebook below. If you’d like to see more you can check out Rounds 2011 Snapshot slideshow on Slideshare. Have you used Rounds in the past? What do you think of the application’s new random video chat feature? Will you give it a shot?