FaceTime is Apple’s new standard for video calling. It comes along with the release of iOS4 and the iPhone 4. At the moment, it only works from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 and only over WiFi. FaceTime was demoed at the WWDC yesterday by Steve Jobs himself. Even though 570 WiFi base stations in use by various bloggers threatened to bring the demo to it’s knees, Jobs made a video call to Jony Ive to demo the product.
11:34AM – Jony: “I did, too — I used to love the optimistic view of the future. And it’s real now, isn’t it?”
“It’s real now. Especially when people turn off their WiFi.”
11:34AM – “Hey Jony how you doing?”
“I’m doing okay — except for these guys who aren’t turning their WiFi off. You know, this is amazing… I grew up with the Jetsons and Star Trek communicators. I grew up dreaming about this stuff…”
– “In 2007 when we launched the iPhone, I got to make the first public call on the iPhone…” Jony’s face shows up on the screen. “Hey Jony! This never freezes up, so you haven’t turned off all the WiFi — let’s get it off please!”
At the moment, the whole thing seems pretty limited. You have to first have an iPhone 4, then you have to be near a WiFi hotspot. The person you’re calling also needs an iPhone 4 near a WiFi hotspot. On the plus side, there is no configuration necessary. It simply works right out of the box. The software automatically switches cameras for you (front or rear) and the video and audio quality are said to be good.
Jobs says they are working with cellular carriers to “get things ready.” They are also planning to turn FaceTime into an open industry standard. This will bring this video calling technology to other handsets and carriers, which should make it much more useful. The possibilities and use cases are many and the demo video showed most of the ones you would expect: people talking to babies, sign language, staying in touch with friends/relatives. Maybe this could be the push needed to take video calling to the mainstream.
photo and video via Engadget