I hear You Knocking

15 02 2010

When the iPhone was first announced early in 2007, I made fun of it. Yes, I admit it. I was a techno-doofus. Why in the world, I argued, would anyone want to settle for an all-in-one device when you could carry three separate products?

Heck, the iPod I was toting back then was a 60GB model and could carry infinitely more songs than a 16GB phone. And the lame 2 megapixel camera on the phone was a throwback to an earlier era of digital cameras.

Boy, was I wrong. Today, I wonder how in the world I ever made it until April 2008 (my point of acquiescence). I stand in awe at how much one little gadget has come to dominate so many aspects of my life. I tolerate the crappy camera because I can post pics directly to Facebook and Twitter, or email them willy-nilly to all of my friends. I accept the smaller storage capacity because, well, I really don’t listen to 60GB worth of music anyway. And I totally dig all those cool apps made just for my phone.

Like the Knocking Live Video app I downloaded Saturday while in Albuquerque. Knocking effectively turns your iPhone into a web cam so that you can share live video with your friends.

Like a kid in a toy store, I had a blast putting this one through a test drive. My colleague and I were having a late breakfast at The Frontier on Central Ave, right across from UNM. We set up our Knocking accounts and then started sharing video.

And if this sounds a little bit like a social network of sorts for live video, you are right. Like the people with the first fax machines, they were pretty much worthless if you didn’t know anyone else with one. Same holds for this app. Naturally, then, Knocking prompts you to invite your friends (note to potential downloaders: If you aren’t careful, though, you may inadvertently allow it to spam everyone in your contact list. Use caution!).

And so I stepped outside and aimed my camera around the very bohemian neighborhood, while my colleague stayed inside and watched remotely. It was almost like being there.

Yes, there are some shortcomings to the app, such as its native inability to provide audio. Users have to first call their friend and then “knock” them to accept the video feed. It is thus a two-step video phone process. Furthermore, this is not Skype, so it is only a one-way video transmission.

And just to make sure this thing really worked over long distances (OK, I was having too much fun with it), I “knocked” another colleague who was in the mountains, and the video exchange worked flawlessly.

The Pointy Heads people who created this app have also developed Knocking Live Pics that allow users to share…well, you get the picture (sorry). And never mind that their web site and the iTunes page suggest that this is only for iPhone 3G and 3GS models, because it works fine on a 1st-gen phone (as long as you have OS3.1 installed).

Now if this all seems frivolous to you, I can understand. After all, I ballyhooed the entire idea of the iPhone. But as my little phone increasingly rules my hectic multidimensional life, it is little apps like this one (free at that) that affirm my choice nearly two years ago. It’re not just a phone. It’s not even my brain. It is pretty much everything I could ever hope to do with a pocket-sized gadget. And with Knocking Live Video and I can now bring my friends along for the ride.

Dr “Glad I Opened The Door” Gerlich

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