The Future of FaceTime: Cross-Platform, 3G Calling and Videomail

Posted on March 6, 2011 by

When Steve Jobs announced FaceTime on the iPhone 4 in June of 2010, it seemed like the future of calling. We’ve seen stuff like this on Star Trek and the Jetsons, but Apple was finally making it a reality. Since then, FaceTime calls can be made from the Mac, iPod touch and iPad 2. But is it going to stop there? Are we ever going to be able to use FaceTime with those less fortunate than us (PC and Android users)? And will Apple allow FaceTime calls over 3G?

When FaceTime was announced, Jobs said that Apple would work hard at making FaceTime an open industry standard. So far we haven’t seen it used by anyone else. I’d like to see someone bring FaceTime to Android and Windows Phone 7. Hahaha, I’m joking, no one uses Windows Phone 7. But it would be nice if FaceTime came to Microsoft’s PC operating system, Windows 7. Although it may have a hard time running with all the malware.

One feature I would like to see come to FaceTime is the ability to make calls over 3G. Currently, FaceTime on the iPhone 4 only works when both users are on WiFi. We know it is possible to make FaceTime calls on a 3G connection because of a jailbreak tweak called My3G. My3G makes iPhone apps think they are on WiFi instead of 3G. I’ve made and received many FaceTime calls on 3G without any problems. My guess is that Apple has been pressured by the carriers not to allow FaceTime over 3G. But this hasn’t stopped 3rd-party video calling apps like Tango, Fring and Skype, which all work over 3G. I think it’s time for Apple to enable this feature too.

Another feature I would like to see with FaceTime is videomail. Sometimes you may not be able to answer a FaceTime call, so it would be nice to give the person trying to contact you a way of leaving a message. When FaceTime first launched, to use it you had to first call the user’s iPhone using their phone number, and then you could switch to FaceTime. But when Apple brought FaceTime to the Mac and iPod touch, they enabled direct FaceTime calls. This was a great new feature, actually it’s how it should have been from the start, but I still want a little more. I want a way to leave the person I’m calling a message if they don’t answer, this is especially important since the user may be on 3G and not even seeing my call. Voicemail has been a part of the iPhone’s voice calling from the beginning, so why not bring videomail to FaceTime?

As I mentioned earlier, there are some 3rd-party apps that already have some of the features I’ve talked about, and if Apple wants to be the leader in video calling, they really need to bring these features to FaceTime.

 

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