Can The Phone Call Be Reinvented With The Web in Mind? Thrutu Takes a Shot

As smartphones have evolved to support apps of increasing complexity, the phone call has remained remarkably stagnant.

In fact, some (or many) have proclaimed it dead.

But Sequoia-backed Metaswitch Networks is making a bet that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

It’s releasing an app called Thrutu, which lets you share rich media like photos, your location or contact details all while you’re on the phone. The company’s starting with Android, since that platform allows developers to go much deeper than iOS, but iPhone and Blackberry apps are in the works too.

There are four modes. You can share where you are while you’re on the phone, which might be valuable if you’re trying to meet up with someone. You can also send over your contact information. Users can also share photos, in the same way that mobile photo-sharing apps like Instagram or Picplz give people a palpable sense of what their friends are seeing or doing.

The last mode almost like a Facebook poke. Users can “prod” each other or make other people’s phones vibrate while they’re on a call with them. There are probably all sorts of unanticipated and quirky uses for this.

Future ideas for Thrutu include letting users play games in the middle of the call, or share real-time video. Sequoia-backed Bump Technologies also aims to support as diverse a number of uses cases as Thrutu — but mainly when you physically “bump” two phones together.

To switch modes, you pull up a “drawer” on the right-hand side (pictured right) where you change from  mode to mode.

Thrutu’s parent, MetaSwitch networks, is a carrier-focused business that helps them migrate to open, packet-based architectures. Backed by Sequoia Capital, MetaSwitch’s aim on Thrutu’s side to build a more consumer-focused line of products.

The idea later on is ideally to give third-party developers deep access to this technology so that they too can create apps or experiences where rich media is shared during phone calls.