From landlines to feature phones and now, smartphones, from voice calling to video chatting, from SMS to emails and IMs - our ways of communication have changed a lot over time. So, why not change the way your phone rings too?
Four friends - Paul Kats, Jeffrey Chernick, Sohrab Pirayesh, and Art Haedike - are looking to do this with Vyng. The California-based startup is looking to transform how conversations start on mobile by bringing emotion to your lock screen. The name ‘Vyng’ is an amalgamation of the words video and ring, rhyming with ‘ring’.
Already in 174 countries including the likes of India, the US, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Ghana, and Indonesia, it runs on over 6,000 kinds of Android devices. Vyng boasts that over 2 billion Vyngs have played on lock screens globally since its launch. Moreover, the company has three patents for its proprietary technology delivering video through calls and contextual texting.
In December 2018, the startup raised Series A funding of $4 million from March Capital Partners and the India arm Omidyar Network, Alpha Edison, and the Entrepreneur Fund. It launched in India immediately after this, offering a customised version that allows users to browse and choose their favourite Bollywood videos as ringtones.
At the time of launch, CEO and Co-founder Paul Kats said that India was its largest market having an Android dominated user base. Add to that the fact that Indian users just love custom ringtones and caller tunes, and Vyng already has the edge.
At YourStory, we thought of checking out the app.
First thing first, what does this app do? It brings a video experience to what was previously an audio-only caller ID. Vyng allows you to either set a default video ringtone for all incoming calls, or assign different video ringtones for your different contacts or groups.
The first step is to enable the app as a ‘default phone app’ and give it other general permissions to begin. Without these, you cannot even sign-up. Then, it verifies your phone number either by sending a code after you add your number to it or using Truecaller verification.
The app opens to several options to browse for videos from the ‘Discover’ section arranged by interest channels. You can also browse for videos from your own phone gallery - like your personal video, pet videos or your baby videos.
If you want a silent videos, you can stick to your original audio ringtone by enabling the ‘Override Custom Audio’ in the Settings.
The app has a big library of videos to choose from ranging from funny ones to music videos, trending, and more. The Indian version not only includes Bollywood songs, but also has vernacular songs in Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, etc.
If you come across an interesting video and you think Vyng should have it, you can also suggest it to the company by going into Settings and providing the video URL.
But, there’s more - using Vyng, you can become a content creator and distributor of short-form content. The app allows you to record your own videos just like Vigo, Like or TikTok.
With Vyng, you can create your own channel, record videos, use them as video ringtones, share them on social media and WhatsApp, and curate playlists.
You can also follow other creators and like their videos. The profile homepage shows metrics of the channel including the number of likes your videos have, and how many people have used them as a video ringtones.
You can also use videos from the app as WhatsApp status, and can also download it to share with your WhatsApp contacts. The app's Play Store page claims that the same can be done on Facebook also, but we did not find how to do that.
The user interface is similar to TikTok and users can swipe up to switch to different videos in a category. Similarly, you can also add a music track or audio clip to your video.
On the Google Play Store, Vyng claims that more than 6 million videos have been uploaded that include music videos, funny videos, WhatsApp status videos, song videos, and trending videos for downloading, sharing, and setting.
It has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 with over 50 lakh downloads on the Google Play Store. To put it in perspective, TikTok has more than 50 crore downloads.
We think the app is definitely worth a try. It’s fun and has a variety of videos. With the added ability to create your own content, it is suitable for all user types. You can choose a peppy Bollywood number or a devotional one, and even a video of your friends.
Trying the app on a OnePlus 3 phone for a week, we did not see the app affecting the normal performance of the phone. For instance, when on silent, the app played only the video without any music. You can also control the volume of the audio - just like with audio ringtones.
It is worth noting that the app works even when you are not connected to the internet. This makes the app even more useful and relevant in a country like India, where signal strengths can get patchy.
When we started using the app, we thought video ringtones may drain the phone’s battery faster. Surprisingly, it did not happen and even though the video ringtone rang multiple times a day, there was no noticeable loss of battery.
While we did not find any major bugs or crashes, we couldn’t figure out how to disable the app and switch to our default audio ringtone without uninstalling Vyng.