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We encountered many hiccups and dropped video calls during our tests (as did the company when it demoed the service at a press event today), but we'd mostly attribute these things to launch-day demand and server jitters.As the last few hours have passed, the service has become noticeably more reliable.
Airtime, like many other services launching recently, requires only a Facebook account, a browser with Adobe Flash, and a webcam to work.
The service's user interface is composed of three panes: the leftmost pane contains video of you, the middle pane contains the person you're chatting with, and the rightmost pane is a familiar-looking buddy list that includes everybody you're friends with on Facebook.
Click one and Airtime pairs you with somebody who's also interested in that topic.
The company hopes that following an intense episode of Mad Men, people will hop online and talk to strangers about it.
If you click the huge "Talk to Someone" button, the service pairs you up with a user who has similar interests on Facebook.
As the video chat launches, a list of mutual interests, friends, cities you've both lived in, a common birth year, and more might show up onscreen to help stimulate conversation.
Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker today announced Airtime, a web-based video chat service that's effectively the same thing as Chatroulette, but connected to Facebook.
Since Airtime is connected to your online identity on Facebook, the company runs less of a risk of abuse by naked guys — the reason Chatroulette took a nosedive in usage.
Or is that the fun of Chatroulette — that you never know what's coming?