Apple has been taking on Skype with their new FaceTime video calling feature. In that case, it only makes sense for the company to bring in the group video calling feature that has been introduced in the latest version of Skype, right? Developers looking into the iOS firmware have stumbled upon a piece of code referencing FaceTime that reads,
What this could mean is that jailbreakers could now bring in new copies of iOS firmware that could set this function to ‘true‘ that could let jailbroken iPhone users to do group video calling from FaceTime rightaway. Anyway, it is still unclear whether Apple would bring this functionality to the iPhone anytime now. We have heard recently about the company’s plans to introduce FaceTime on the Windows and Mac platforms. Considering that the iChat tool on Mac already supports group chatting, it is possible that Apple may set this function to true on the desktop computers while retaining the two-way chat for the iPhone. What do you think?
In an apparent bid to take on Apple’s newly introduced FaceTime video calling feature, Sunnyvale based Yahoo is said to be working on an Yahoo Messenger application for the iOS and Android platforms that will incorporate a video calling feature. This announcement was made by Yahoo’s Vice President of Mobile Development, David Katz recently.
According to Katz, the new feature shall be much more comprehensive than FaceTime. Firstly, Yahoo Messenger already enjoys a more robust user base with more than 81 million worldwide users. Also, by introducing this functionality to iOS and Android platforms, Yahoo could render the service on a far more number of handsets than Apple has since FaceTime is only available on iPhone 4 and iPod Touch at present. Besides this, the video calling functionality is expected to work on 3G as well as Wi-Fi. FaceTime as you know, famously works only over Wi-Fi.
Yahoo will not have it easy though. There are already a number of other VoIP calling applications with video calling feature that have a more elaborate presence on the smartphone platforms. Yahoo, for all its 81 million user base, is still a predominantly a desktop application that is still to see widespread usage on the mobile. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.
When Steve Jobs unveiled the FaceTime video calling during the WWDC 2010 event back in June this year, I did not anticipate the airtime that this nifty feature would garner moving forward. Yes, it was an interesting way to communicate between two iPhone 4 users and in all probability, the device could also make it to the iPod Touch when it had a front-facing camera. Back then, the feeling was that Apple brought in this feature simply to offer a reason for a group of friends to all go for the same iDevice – so they could all FaceTime with each other. Anyway, the feature works only Wi-Fi and so it should not find too much of a traction anyway.
But going by the way things seem to be panned out, it looks like Apple may have grander plans for this video calling feature. FaceTime is already making to the next generation iPod Touch and if recent speculations are anything to go by, an iPad with a camera is pretty certain and FaceTime is then very much likely on the iPad. This much was already known – Apple would definitely be looking to integrate the feature on all its iDevices.
But in recent times, there are also rumors about Apple developing a FaceTime client for Mac and Windows. Mac users will see this being integrated with iChat though we are still wondering how it would be available for Windows users. To be fair, all this is total speculation and based on hear-say and so there really is no proof to back up the claims that Apple is actually looking to bring FaceTime to these non-iOS devices.
Speculation, it is. But unlikely, it is not. Steve Jobs has noted on more than one occasion about FaceTime being based on open standards and that he would like to bring this functionality to other devices as well – non-Apple ones.
If you have been following Apple for any significant length of time, you will find this all to be slightly weird. FaceTime is a free application. In all probability, the application will also be made available for free when it comes to Mac and Windows. And it’s weird because Apple has never pushed a product so aggressively when it does not make money directly. Apple is no Google.
So what is it about FaceTime that makes Apple pursue it so aggressively? Looking through Apple’s moves in the past one year, it is clear that Cupertino sees Google as a sworn enemy. The counter may also be true. Beginning with the mobile OS platform, Apple and Google today compete against each other in so many areas – smartphones, ad networks, tablets, set top box, music. You name it.
So where does FaceTime video calling fit into the entire scheme of things? Looking into the Google files, it is pretty apparent. Mountain View has long been offering its Voice service. The offering got bigger recently with the launch of the voice calling feature that was integrated with Gmail. Google today offers free voice calls to USA and Canada with pretty cheap international calls. The service is expected to be made available outside the United States in the coming months.
Is FaceTime Apple’s counter to Google’s Voice call feature? In the present form though, FaceTime is nothing but a fancy video calling functionality. But this can be expanded over time to bring in voice-calling. By launching FaceTime over Windows and Mac, Apple could clearly be expanding its base since the company could connect to non-Apple users for the first time ever. It’s a free application that only requires an email ID to sign up. The popularity could clearly soar. And bring in the ability to voice-call from any internet connected device – Apple would be able to jump into the center of the VoIP business from nowhere.
Looks ambitious from where we are now. But I wonder if all the development and negotiations are already happening at Cupertino. What do you think?
As you are probably aware, Apple’s new FaceTime video calling feature does not work on unofficial carriers (like T-Mobile USA). This is because of the way these carriers handle the SMS sent from/to the Gateway for activation of service. So, if you are on an unlocked iPhone 4 looking to use FaceTime, here’s a way to get it done.
PushFix, a jailbroken iPhone app developer has released an iPhone app named MiTime that will help you out in this regard. The application fixes the inherent issue with recognizing the SMS from the gateway so that FaceTime is activated. However, because this procedure will require the developer to send you two international SMSes, the app itself is not priced cheap and is available on the Cydia store for a price of $5.99.
Do note that this app will only work on authorized devices though users from across the world (except Cambodia) can make use of this app to activate FaceTime on their unlocked iPhone 4. Here’s a video on how the process works.
By now, the new iPod Touch has been leaked a several dozen times so I won’t bother to take you through that “interesting rumor” that this fourth generation device could possibly come with a front facing camera that will support FaceTime video calling. By all means, that looks a certainty considering that Apple was supposed to get the camera in the last generation model itself and with the company desperately trying to get their new video calling feature proliferate much better among users are most likely to bring camera to iPod Touch 4G.
Anyway, there is a new video demo doing the rounds in the blogosphere that shows a front LCD panel of the new iPod Touch revealing a slot for a camera in all its glory. Check it out. You will not be disappointed.
Video calling has, so for long, not been popular primarily because of two reasons – it was supported on very few devices to start with and also because it could be costly. Now with bandwidth becoming more affordable with an increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots and also because many carriers now offer unlimited 3G data plans, video calling is slowly picking up traction.
After Apple debuted the FaceTime video calling functionality on the iPhone 4, Adobe has now demonstrated a similar functionality for Android devices. The new feature, cheekily called FlashTime by Adobe, is built over Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) 2.5 interface that is presently in beta. Android handsets are however likely to term this featute simply as P2P video calling.
The functionality is at present in prototype stage and we hope a working beta application is soon released on the Android platform.