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Sidecar dials up smarter smartphones

The new mobile app aims to let you easily share video, photos, and other information while you talk. It also provides free calling in the U.S. and Canada to non-Sidecar users.

Sidecar logo

Startup Sidecar wants to be the engine of change for smartphones.

The company, formerly known as SocialEyes, today launched its Sidecar mobile app, which has not one but two key features. First, the company says, it lets users share live video (or photos, contact information, and locations) while they talk. Second, it provides free VoIP calling in a variety of scenarios.

The goal is to bust the calling experience out of its limited, old-fashioned ways.

"Until now, voice calling has sat in a silo by itself. People who wanted to do more than talk had to toggle back and forth between voice calls and whatever else they wanted to share with the person they were calling," Rob Williams, Sidecar's CEO, said in a statement. "Sidecar tears down these barriers."

Calls made using Sidecar are free to other Sidecar users worldwide, and in the the U.S. and Canada, calls are free -- over Wi-Fi -- even to non-Sidecar users, provided you're calling a regular phone number. Standard carrier data charges will apply when the app is used over 3G/4G.

As SocialEyes, the company was founded in 2011 to provide videoconferencing services, but then "pivoted" to target the rapidly growing smartphone market. Its founders include Williams, Rob Glaser (former head of RealNetworks), and Jeff McLeman.

Sidecar is available as a free download at Apple's App Store and at Google Play.