verizon signPlenty of apps allow anyone with a smartphone to broadcast live video online, but the result is often a blurry, buffering, stuttering mess -- unless, that is, the app happens to have a 4G network on its side.
Color, a startup best known for raising $41 million and then releasing an app that flopped, is the first to win such an ally.
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On Monday, the company announced a partnership with Verizon that will allow its second app, which broadcasts live video on Facebook, to double the frame rate on its videos and add audio to a previously silent experience.
Instead of relying solely on software for encoding video, the startup will also take advantage of the phone itself to accomplish the task. Color CEO Bill Nguyen says he originally avoided audio simply because it wasn't feasible; now he's talking about eventually shooting live video in HD.
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"The difference is that the processing and computation that used to happen on the phone now happens on the network," he says.
For the time being, Color is using this new approach solely to improve video and audio quality in its Color for Facebook app. But eventually, letting Verizon's persistent 4G network handle some of the heavy lifting could also allow Color to create features that would previously have drained a phone's battery.
Nguyen gives the example of a rescue team that would want to alert all of the first responders in a specific area when there is an emergency. Instead of having the whole team run a GPS application in order to share their individual locations (which is what ambient location apps like Highlight do), Color could now use Verizon's network -- which is always running -- to locate the first responders in a specific area.
Color could similarly use the network to tell drivers they are about to hit traffic before they make a search for a road or to tell diners who just arrived a restaurant what the menu is before they ever check in.
"Without [using the network], you'd have all these applications running all the time on the phone," Nguyen says. "It would be computational overload."
The downside to relying on a network to do some of the work for apps is that only users on that network can benefit from it.
Whereas one app's experience currently might vary from iPhone to Android to BlackBerry, this approach also introduces a whole new level of differentiation for networks. If it catches on, certain apps will work a lot differently depending on whether you're on Verizon or AT&T.
Color for Facebook's higher-quality video and audio, for instance, will only be implemented for Verizon users. All other users will continue to broadcast to Facebook in silence.
This story originally published on Mashable here.