Napster co-founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker relaunched his Airtime platform as a group text and video chat application on iOS and Android. The app was created to allow users to experience content together, as they might in the real world.
Airtime allows users to create rooms and invite their friends to join. Users can chat with others through text, and up to six room members can participate in a group video chat at once.
In addition, users can share videos, photos and music in a room, which can be viewed or listened to by everyone in the room at the same time. This includes support for sharing a user’s own content, as well as content from YouTube, Giphy or Spotify, as examples.
When users want to share content from another platform, they can tap the plus button, select one of the app’s supported platforms and browse content to share in the room. For instance, when users select YouTube, they can browse popular YouTube videos, search for videos manually or connect to their YouTube accounts to share their own videos to the room.
When a room is empty, users can tap a “Signal” button to alert the room’s members that they’re available to chat, or they can turn on a “Do Not Disturb” mode to stop receiving notifications from their friends.
You are seeing the new Airtime for the first time today, but it was nearly four years ago that the first version of this idea was introduced. Back then, the technology landscape was quite different. It was a world of Flash web video players and early smartphones. Mobile networks were slow, battery life wasn’t great and audio/video compression technology was much less advanced. As a result, delivering on the Airtime vision — a very new concept in communication — was challenging, to say the least. Aside from a lot of technical glitches on our first day and an early reliance on Facebook during the launch, the core of the idea was a bit early.
Less widely recognized, perhaps, was our goal to jump-start a social network and get millions of people using the product at the same time. We went from zero to many hundreds of thousands of users in less than 24 hours. Very few social networks, if any, have grown as fast at launch. That bet didn’t exactly pay off as planned, but it fueled our passion for this vision and for Airtime. Thanks to major advances across key tech areas, our vision for Airtime is now possible, and it’s amazing what we’ve been able to do to bring this product to life.