WHAT: Spin: The New Together is a free app (iPhone, iPad) that offers real-time video-chat and photo-sharing for iOS users. Up to 10 friends can chat on the same channel, watch YouTube videos and share pictures.

HITS: Group chats are fun, but the real treat was seeing my friends' YouTube videos and Instagram photos. I could comment on them by "writing" or doodling with Spin's Chalk Talk. Using the app definitely helps conquer on-the-road loneliness -- it was like hanging out with friends in the same room despite the miles. Great for parents on business trips, too.

MISSES: When I tried to add a friend who wasn't on Spin, he or she either didn't get it or wasn't able to connect. I also couldn't connect with a friend in London but later learned that travelers need to download the app in the U.S. before they go abroad. It's not yet available for Android or Windows.

-- Jennifer Leo, Los Angeles Times



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