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Seow Tein Hee male Former Associate Editor

Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.

The Significance of Video Callling on iPhone 4

WWDC 2010. What a rush it has been, even with the iPhone 4 leaked ahead of the event. But as we've reported in our WWDC coverage over here, there's still lots of features that just got revealed. Like its 960 x 640 resolution display, a gyroscope within the iPhone 4, and as Mr. Jobs puts it as "one last thing", FaceTime or video calling.

A fellow colleague overheard a conversation during lunch, talking about the wonders of having video calls on the iPhone 4. Video call, a feature that has been present for the past few years. Of course, herein lies the debate we've had in the editorial team - is FaceTime really that awesome?

Not so, at least right now. Think about this, video calls made possible only via Wi-Fi till a later date. FaceTime will support 3G networks, but why wait when the infrastructure is already in place? Here's another thing: video calls over the 3G network hasn't picked up due to the lack of support by the service providers. Not to mention that when it first started, there's also the capability of the network to consider. And for that, you also don't see a lot of consumers picking up on the video telephony trend.

On a more superficial level, would you want to be caught talking to your phone? Yes, to your phone, not on your phone.

But forget this not: before the Apple App Store came around, were you a heavy data user? Did you constantly go online to shop for apps? Undeniably, the apps boom created a need, and with it, a demand from consumers to log on. And with it, service providers moved in to supply that need.

So who's to say that with the iPhone 4 and FaceTime, we might see a resurgence of video telephony. Having a conversation with the iPhone 4 might have that cool factor, so to speak.

But until we see some solid proof that the iPhone 4 will be a definite game changer in this area, let's reserve our awe for a feature that's been around. Personally, I'm more excited over the 960 x 640 resolution on the iPhone 4's display.

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Actually Jobs did say FaceTime is going to be an open standard. So, it's not as 'closed' as what you think. I believe he's allowing others to develop apps using the FaceTime technology, so you might be able to use another smartphone to talk to someone on an iPhone 4.


Actually, I think you meant "the apps boom created a *demand*, and with it, a *need for* consumers to log on. And with it, service providers moved in to supply that need."

How many people (apart from early adopters) used the 3G network to surf and download before the iPhone hit?

My key-takeaway from FaceTime is really about Steve Jobs' and Apple's vision of the future of communications.

It was just over a year ago that Jobs had a close brush with death. Since then he's introduced the iPad - another device that clearly announces Apple's vision for the future of computing - and now FaceTime.

Has video calling been around for a while? Sure.

Were computer tablets around before the iPad. Yup.

Did touch-technology exist before the iPhone? Definitely (Microsoft Surface, anyone?).

But it took Apple to take that 'advanced' technology, bolster it with an intuitive OS, and make it mainstream with wide adoption.

Apple is now in a unique position to push another previously available, 'advanced' tech, making it easy for mass users.

What's interesting to me is how Apple doesn't seem to care much about playing catch up with its competitors. Instead, it pushes the envelope of where it thinks technology could be, instead of should be.

Is this all thanks to the vision of Steve Jobs? I don't know. But it hints to me that Jobs isn't so much about great profits as he is about leaving a lasting legacy on the way technology impacts our lives.

And perhaps, with FaceTime and the popularity of the iPhone, we could see another boom for demand and need, this time in the video calling world.


Actually, I think you meant "the apps boom created a *demand*, and with it, a *need for* consumers to log on. And with it, service providers moved in to supply that need."

How many people (apart from early adopters) used the 3G network to surf and download before the iPhone hit?

My key-takeaway from FaceTime is really about Steve Jobs' and Apple's vision of the future of communications.

It was just over a year ago that Jobs had a close brush with death. Since then he's introduced the iPad - another device that clearly announces Apple's vision for the future of computing - and now FaceTime.

Has video calling been around for a while? Sure.

Were computer tablets around before the iPad. Yup.

Did touch-technology exist before the iPhone? Definitely (Microsoft Surface, anyone?).

But it took Apple to take that 'advanced' technology, bolster it with an intuitive OS, and make it mainstream with wide adoption.

Apple is now in a unique position to push another previously available, 'advanced' tech, making it easy for mass users.

What's interesting to me is how Apple doesn't seem to care much about playing catch up with its competitors. Instead, it pushes the envelope of where it thinks technology could be, instead of should be.

Is this all thanks to the vision of Steve Jobs? I don't know. But it hints to me that Jobs isn't so much about great profits as he is about leaving a lasting legacy on the way technology impacts our lives.

And perhaps, with FaceTime and the popularity of the iPhone, we could see another boom for demand and need, this time in the video calling world.


@sz55gn Good point on the closed system.

As to whether 3G video call will still be relevant, it's still up for debate. I guess what we need to do is take time to monitor and evaluate the practicality of video calls, and whether Apple has the persuasive power to push forth a demand for video telephony.


What you wrote was the obvious.

What is not so obvious is what is the technology behind to enable the Video call ?

Since video call is to be used with wifi, it does not need to have a telco, They need a notify server to operate. Likely this would be your apple id. which would most likely be apple specific (close system). Meaning you could only do video call with another iphone 4 or iPad. It does not used the existing video call (3G) circuit switch technology. Another non standard protocol by Apple most likely.

They could however enable 3G protocol in software at a later date but it would lock in your Apple ID with your phone number. That would be when nobody would use facetalk. or they might drop it all together as 3G video call has never been hot.


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