3G Facetime – Does it Change Everything Again?

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August 9, 2010

in iphone, Location & Context, VoIP

If you got a new iPhone you will remember your first and perhaps only FaceTime call over WiFi. It was probably with a family member or a close friend. Then you promptly forgot about it. It’s best currently for a call home from a WiFi in the hotel type of moment. So it misses out on all the things you could be doing with it and / or giving you an experience of what a video cam in your pocket might really mean. So let’s explore that briefly.

I applied http://jailbreakme.com to my iPhone4’s. I then added My3g. It’s almost as easy as the two sentences. I won’t caution you re backups, or whether or not you should do this. I’m not even sure I’ll keep these phones in this state. However I wanted to make some 3G video calls. I wanted them to be possible when the family is out and about.

So I called my wife at work. She doesn’t work that far away and yet I’ve never seen or visited in her office. So today I got to see what it was like. Nothing special reasonably tidy and a busy desk. Seems simple enough. In that few seconds I had a much better understanding. I know the chair, the desk height, where pictures are etc. I suspect / no know there are a lot of occasions like these. In the last few years a photo when buying new clothes comes in from my daughter etc. These would be better with a little video.

Now in all of this – video on mobile is not new. It is in America but overseas it never really caught on. I think it was just too fiddly and perhaps too expensive. Yet Skype video has created a broader familiarity and I’d think this would reach the iPhone set. Was the quality great. Not really if you look at the picture. OK. certainly. In synch and with good voice – definitely. Apparently AT&T is perfectly capable of delivering FaceTime over 3G at a quality level most of us would be happy with. Where it doesn’t work… it doesn’t work. They don’t stand a chance of charging separately for it. IMHO.

You are only going to use FaceTime with those you are very close to. Escalating from a telephone call to Facetime is effective too. The other party doesn’t have to accept and given that it most often will force the phone into conference mode it is easy to understand why it may be rejected.

I’m recommending you test it with 3G – particularly if you just rolled over your old unlimited plan. Still at 3mb of data per minute it doesn’t eat it all that fast. I remain curious about what happens when  you can knowingly go to video anytime when on the move.

I’m not all all certain that video changes everything. I think it more likely that the technical underpinnings of FaceTime have broader implications.

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