Will you be spending some FaceTime with iPhone 4?

iPhone 4 FaceTime video calling iChat

Steve Jobs brought back the "one more thing" bump for FaceTime, Apple's new iPhone 4 feature that promises no setup, Wi-Fi only, one-on-one video calling. You start a call or choose a contact and you're video chatting.

We're curious if you think you'll be using it? Nokia has had video chat for what seems like a century and half, and the Android-based Evo 3G has it via Qik, but it's hardly a mainstream phenomena yet. Apple has a history of taking interesting technology and making it usable for the masses, but given the iPhone 4-only, Wi-Fi only restrictions, will the masses embrace it?

Apple has made the protocols behind FaceTime open, so while we hope iChat on Mac gets compatibility ASAP, it's possible Skype could provide the same functionality, and Nokia, Android, and other platforms could have compatible apps. We could (and should) even -- finally -- get camera equipped iPads and iPod touches to join in the fun.

Is that enough to make it mainstream?

Let us know what you think about FaceTime. Do you see yourself using? If so, how? And where else do you want to see the FaceTime tech pop up?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Will you be spending some FaceTime with iPhone 4?


I can see myself possibly using it at work, once my coworkers upgrade their iPhones (We have quite a few). However, for talking with the wife and kids while on a trip...I doubt it. At least, not until other devices can be used, and Apple works out a deal with AT&T for 3G. I simply can't afford to buy another iPhone 4 so I can FaceTime with my family.

I think it will be a novelty until Skype picks it up. Most people won't know many other people with the iPhone 4 for quite some time, so it will need 3G or at least 3rd party developers to pick it up, if it is ever to take off. I am saying we are still a few years out before it is mainstream. Much like text messaging was at first.

I just wish it was compatible with the 3GS...it would be more embraced that way...but who knows...maybe our Jailbreak community can make that possible

Facetime at the actual status is ridiculous and unuseful: you've to be on a wifi network and you can talk only with another iPhone4: absurd!!
Facetime will be useful when iOS 4.x will be available, I'm sure than in the future talking over a 3G network and with other devices will be available.

I'm buying the whole family iphones, so i would guess i'm using it. It's only a tap away. No setup involved (which is key). Idiot proof. So it has chances.
Wifi only is annoying but i'm guessing a jailbreak and 3G unrestrictor might fix that.

I'm not understanding why people don't think that the same Qik that's available for the Evo, won't be coming to the iPhone 4, because you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be.

I think that FaceTime is an EXTREMELY cool feature but I have never video chatted and have no plans to. I have an MBP and iChat and never video chat.

I'm with Greg. I don't want people to see me when I talk/chat with them and - quite frankly - I've no interest in seeing them either.

as a IT tech it would be awesome for people to show me what was messed up instead of explaining over the phone. here's for hoping this is the first step for the masses.

I'm curious how this would work in conjunction with your allotted minutes on contract. Of course, when it's only iPhone4 to iPhone4, it's not going to matter because both people would be AT&T customers anyway. However, if down the road you can make an iPhone4 to Skype call, and you begin the call as a normal phone call on the cell phone network and then hit the 'FaceTime' icon, does that somehow hand the call off from the cell towers to wi-fi such that you are no longer using your minutes? I'm just curious about the technology.
In any event, I think it is neat enough of a feature that I'll be buying 2 new iPhone4's instead of giving my old 3G to my wife.

Do u think 3g unrestictor would be able to make this usable on 3g for jailbroken phones?

I also think Skype support will be the big thing.
PC to Iphone Skype video chat.. wow!!

I won't use it for everyday use, but I could see this being very fun to use from time to time.. A good percent of my family and friends have iphones, I'd love to be able to share concerts, games, stuff like that.. just to make them feel closer to my life.

I know quite a few people with iphones that plan on upgrading. We will probably use it in the beginning. I can’t see myself using it a lot until it becomes available for Skype, Qik, or iChat . I use Skype A LOT with my kids. I’m sure within a couple of months we will be able to use it with just more than Facetime iphone 4 to iphone 4.

WiFi only
Capped data plans if it ever gets off WIFI
Apple Specific (don't believe they will set if free)
Already done better by Skype Video and several others.
The only reason for rolling their own was control.
No, this is just another non-standard Apple standard just like their flawed html5.
Not ever going to be a significant player.

I think the key will be how quickly other platforms integrate the protocols. Currently, since it's only on iPhone 4, I doubt it will see much use, but I'd bet that it will explode once Skype picks it up or once it's integrated with other Apple devices/apps.
The WiFi-only restriction will definitely limit its use, but Steve definitely said that they're trying to expand it to 3G use ASAP. So that may not be a restriction for long.
For me personally, my wife and I both travel some. I could see us using it when we travel, even with the WiFi restriction. However, since we'll have one iPhone 4 and one 3GS, we won't really be able to use it until it's integrated with Skype, iChat, or some other desktop service.

Hi all
I dont understand if you need WIFI connection for receiving facetime call as well? I may be really stupid to bring that up, but does any body know?

Not securing a 3G service deal with the carriers is a huge shortcoming on the part of Apple.
Why get iPhone 4 for the whole family if you're on business trip at a customer's site without wifi or when your spouse is at a store or performance and wants to facetalk?

If i was to poll my family and friends about Skype, they'd answer "what's a Skype?"
But if i call their iphone, they're at least capable of tapping the Facetime icon after prompted to.
This will take off because it doesn't involve 3rd party apps or registering for a new chat account, or figuring out what Skype is. You call someone and tap for video. Simple stupid.

"I don’t want people to see me when I talk/chat with them and – quite frankly – I’ve no interest in seeing them either."
Oh, I agree!
I'm hoping one day we can avoid human contact all together, who wants that anyways? Not I.

I think it's a great feature and will use it. Especially since I have family out of state who have iPhones. And for it only being on wifi isn't too bad, I'm sure it's a test to see how people like it and would use on the network. As fa as jailbreking to use it on 3g is a waste. Maybe it's the jailbreak communtiy who is messing up AT&T network by doing things your not supposed to.

I would use it especially whenever we can use it over 3g and more of my friends have the iPhone 4. I can talk to relatives and friends i havent seen for awhile

until it's available on 3G, people will have to schedule their video calls to be on wifi which will severly restrict use. Same thing for iphone 4 only. maybe over time these restrictions will change - then it could be huge

Will never use it. Well.. maybe for porn, otherwise will never use it. i don't use the phone feature of the iphone much either.

If I go ahead and get my wife the iPhone4 then I could see us using it intermittently. I figured the functionality would be crippled by WiFi restrictions but was really hoping it would at least work with a Mac running iChat. I use iChat video conferencing with my family back east all the time, but none of them have iPhones, so this feature will not help me in that way at all.
Since this is WiFi only, i wouldn't think it would use your AT&T minutes at all (but would chew up data charges if it ever goes 3G capable)

I thought about this and I'm saying I'll never use it except for a few times to test it out with friends. I don't want to hear my iPhone ring, roll out of bed and have someone SEEING my face in the morning. Besides, I have a MBP, iMac and a PC laptop all with webcams and I have never used the feature.

I will definitely use it! I have many friends all over the USA that are iPhone lovers and deaf/hard of hearing. We love our iphone because it is very handy for ASL clips. I think talking among the deafs, this is what we wanted. Time has come. I know video chat on the cellphone has been around since 2003, but it was more of a hassle to use. The way I see it, Apple has made it more simplified, "out of the box" requiring no account. I think this is a big turning point. Also talking to my deaf friends, they are content with wifi only for now because Jobs did mention that it will be done over 3G network. I believe that he doesn't want all of us to get turned off using 3G video conferencing if it isn't up to the par. I'm sure Apple is working hard to make sure it's smooth, reliable, and maintains a good high quality conferencing using 3G network. Once it's perfected, I can envision that there will be VRS(Video Relay Services) apps integrated into the iphone. Any hearing people calling deaf or hard of hearing using 10 digit number, it will automatically include interpreters to assist you whether you can't talk or can do voice carry over. Such thing exist now but not through the cellphone. (see Sorensen, Viable, etc) We hope this is the future for video calls.

It's hard to find a place where there's no
wifi most work places schools and households hotels coffeeshops even most cities have it available so really only problem finding wifi would be while driving and I don't exactly think using facetime while driving would be the safest thing anyways lol

I have never used cameras in iMac nor laptop either. My calls are short and sweet. No more than 3 - 5 mins. So I don't see any point to make this a great deal. Same for HD video. Sure, I take photos but video - hardly. Longer lasting battery is another story, though.

I for one use skype daily, and Ichat too. FaceTime is marketed at those of us whole do use these type of features, and will use it daily, just like we use Skype daily.. Apple isn't taking away regular phone calls from people, so who cares that its only over Wifi for now. I live in an apartment complex right off of my College campus, and we all have wifi. as soon as you get to the campus parking lot, school wifi.. Whoever thinks wifi is limiting needs to get real and look around them and notice with starbucks on every block, its there. I rather this be stable on wifi then crappy on the the sometimes suspect att 3g

Jobs very clearly said in the launch that the are opening up the facetime protocal to everyone. So if AOL, YAHOO, MSN want to add it to their messenger products, they can go ahead and do it.

"I just wish it was compatible with the 3GS"
Uh...how would you use it on a 3GS with no front camera? It wouldn't really work.

The WiFi restriction is a big one, how can you know the person you're calling to chat with will be on a WiFi at the time? Unless they happen to be at home, it probably won't work. On the other hand, this could be great for people who have crappy cel connections (coughAT&Tcough) but have WiFi.

Once I and my wife get an iPhone 4 each I can see us both using the FaceTime app. I'm also sure that with a little JB magic you'll be able to use it over 3G soon enough.

I will probably use it 2-3 times with my friends messing around. But in the end this feature was probably at the bottom of my list of desires. It's cool though, I don't think wifi only is that big of a deal. The only place I seem to not have wifi these days is outside and in my car.

Skype = Duplicate Functionality
I have quite a few friends and coworkers upgrading so I'll use it. Not sure how much tho.
I do see this getting some people in trouble once it's available via 3G.
Wife: "Where ya at honey?"
Husband: "At the bar with the boys." as he looks around the strip club.
Wife: "I wanna see you, lets start FaceTime."

We've had video calling here since early 2003, and via 3G so it worked almost anywhere. Has been a total flop. Perhaps it was because only tech-savvy people had video chat phones, whereas my partner and even my parents have iPhones, so it may be more useful.

The way I see it video chatting is a very popular tool for social networking or just blogging to the masses and has become very useful and fun over the past couple years . Although Facetime is a way for apple to show off there new front facing camera and attempt to bridge the gap of the competition I doubt if this feature will even be able to be accessable regularly due to the fact that not everybody gets an iPhone 4 right away because of the absurd early upgrade price and no contract price. This feature is amazing when you look at it with you're eyes but wen u think about it I don't think it will soar for quite some time

This is probably just a basic version of the possibilites that video chatting on a phone has. Just like the stock applications. The good thing about that though is that there are always gonna b apps to do it better. Like Skype when it comes out with an iPhone 4 compatible version , which we all know They will due to the profit they could make from this.

@RobCal: "Whoever thinks wifi is limiting needs to get real and look around them and notice with starbucks on every block, its there."
It's not a matter of whether or not you're willing to walk to Starbucks or another hotspot, but whether or not the person you're calling is on WiFi. If the odds aren't better than 50/50, it's more reliable just to call or text.

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