CircleAnywhere and mobile devices, as of October 2016

I’ll occasionally get questions about using CircleAnywhere on mobile devices (phones, tables, etc). I’ll admit that I’ve been hoping these kinds of questions wouldn’t come up for awhile — and, well, I don’t always get what I ask for. :)

So, I’ll do my best to describe clearly and succinctly the ‘mobile’ situation and how it relates to our technology.

We use a cutting-edge web technology (WebRTC for the geeks), and currently, not all browsers and operating system vendors support it. The big vendor not at the table is, unfortunately, Apple. As of the time of this posting, you can see their dismal performance in updating their software here: http://iswebrtcreadyyet.com

This means no CircleAnywhere for any iDevice, and probably it’ll be that way for awhile. While it would be possible to build a native app to run CA on iWhatever, that’s too big an order for the current size of our tech team (me!).

Android phones and tablets are another story, as Chrome browser on the newer phones/tablets has full support for WebRTC. You could, in theory, use CA on these devices, but I want to warn you about two pretty big pitfalls:

1. We haven’t optimized our design for mobile yet. That’s coming, but a bit down on the priority list. I’ve actually used my Android phone to connect to CA events, and it’s doable to navigate the interface, but a bit frustrating on the small screen right now.

2. This is the more important one: live video is *very* demanding on a computer’s resources. While it’s not bad to do a Skype call with one other person, trying to interconnect 10 people at the same time is very likely too much for a smart phone or tablet — we don’t really know because we haven’t specifically tested for it yet. I can definitely tell you it would be a bad idea to use your mobile data connection to stream live video, as you’ll most likely get a very unpleasant bill from your phone company for all the data usage. 😉 You’d have to connect to a local Wifi network. And if that worked out, and your phone/tablet didn’t melt under the strain of processing all those video feeds, then yes, you can today theoretically do a CA session on a new Android device. I definitely cannot officially recommend doing this :)

I hope y’all can appreciate the difficulty of offering CA on mobile at this time. We’ll continue to keep our eye on making it happen.