Dubbed Family Point, the app offers private text and voice messaging in a timeline format, similar to a Twitter or Facebook stream. Free to subscribers, the app also includes a shared calendar feature and supports up to seven user accounts.
Family Point was developed by Comcast Silicon Valley. That's the same tech development group in charge of the new Xfinity Games app, which Multichannel News reported on Wednesday.
The new family app gives users a way around costlier text messaging plans, which have been a major source of income for wireless carriers for years. While SMS revenue is on the wane thanks to other Internet-based messaging applications, the new product from Comcast may be an unwelcome one for the cable company's wireless partners. (See Comcast/Verizon Combo Steers Clear of FiOS.)
Family Point launched on August 23, but Comcast has not publicly announced the new service. A spokesperson for Comcast could not immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the Comcast Silicon Valley group has been busy of late. The MSO opened its Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center as a West Coast satellite office in 2011. Earlier this month the division of Comcast Labs launched its Xfinity Games app, which turns an iPad into a controller for games delivered to Comcast's new X1 set-tops.
That app has also been kept quiet by Comcast, but is tied to a larger Xfinity Games trial service developed in partnership with Electronic Arts Inc. The MSO is testing the service in limited markets with select, invitation-only trial participants. According to iTunes, "XFINITY Games powered by Origin delivers console-quality video games from Electronic Arts directly to your television using your Comcast X1 set-top box."
The Family Point app works with iPhones and Android smartphones running at least the iOS 6.0 or Android 4.0 operating system. In a list of frequently asked questions, Comcast says that an online version will be released later this year.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable