In a FaceTime-like move that could bring some additional stickiness to its digital voice service, Comcast has quietly introduced a two-way, mobile-to-mobile video calling feature to its Xfinity Connect app for iOS and Android devices.
The feature lets Xfinity Voice subs make video calls to each other, and it was included in the 6.0 version of the Xfinity Connect app that was released on August 25 simultaneously for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
The latest version tacks on video communications to Xfinity Connect, an app that lets Comcast subs check email and voice mail, receive text messages, and place and answer unlimited voice calls over WiFi using the app’s Voice2Go feature.
The video calling feature is available to Xfinity Voice subs on the MSO’s “Unlimited” plan. Comcast confirmed that the majority of its 11.31 million residential voice customers are on that plan. To use the video calling feature, customers must activate the Voice2Go element of the Xfinity Connect app.
The new video calling element uses WebRTC, an open Internet standard that supports real-time communication. Comcast is also using WebRTC for Xfinity Share, the MSO’s new live streaming app for mobile devices and the X1 video platform that was recently made available to all Comcast customers.
The new feature for Xfinity Connect also marks Comcast’s latest approach with two-way video calling. In mid-2013, Comcast shut down a TV-based service called Skype on Xfinity that sold for $9.95 per month and included a hardware kit featuring a video camera, remote control and a specialized adapter.