If you've been waiting patiently for the special iPad version of Skype, you needed to be quick on the trigger last night. Because just a few hours after the app went live, Skype went ahead and pulled it.
Once upon a time, texting was a walled garden. Messages could be sent and received only shared between phones from the same carrier. Cell-based video chatting, still in its infancy, is in a similar segregated state. Video calls between phones are restricted to within a specific video chat platform, currently Apple's FaceTime, the Android app Qik, available on the two Sprint 4G phones (the HTC EVO and the Samsung Galaxy S Epic), and a new entry, Movicha (pronounced "moe-VEE-cha"), powered by a technology from a company called Damaka. I recently tested them all, and (risking once again being accused of being an Apple fanboy) the winner — clearly, literally and figuratively — is FaceTime by a wide margin. Read on for the details.
Facetime first allowed you to video chat between iPhone 4's. Then Apple added iPod Touch's to the mix. Now? The Mac got on board, allowing you to video chat between any iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac.
Apple's FaceTime video chat that's built into iPhones and new iPod Touches is neat, but it's got a couple of issues holding it back. First, the fact that you need to be on Wi-Fi makes it difficult to predict when someone will be available to FaceTime with you. And having it only work on such a limited number of products makes things tough as well. At least Apple looks to be fixing at least one of these.
It makes sense that the next version of Apple's iPod Touch would come with a couple of the features from the iPhone 4; mainly, a front-facing camera for Facetime chats and the higher-resolution Retina display. And a leaked faceplate makes at least the first of those seem very likely.
To make a call from an airplane, your only real option is those phones on the seats you have to pay for (and even those are rare now). Using your cell doesn't work, and neither does VoIP as it's often blocked by Wi-Fi providers. You know what does work? The iPhone 4's video chat component, FaceTime.
With the fancy new iPhone 4 showing off neat tricks like HD video recording and FaceTime video calling, it's no surprise that the iPod Touch is feeling a bit neglected. So it's only natural that it would get these fun new features during its next update.
With its new front-facing camera, the iPhone 4 brings videoconferencing to the masses. The idea is compelling. Those heartrending, fancy demo videos of FaceTime, Apple's application that goes with that camera, make it look like something out of a sci-fi movie. And you know what? It feels like that.
Steve Jobs announced iPhone 4 at the Worldwide Developers Conference, calling it the biggest leap since the original iPhone. At 9mm, it's 24% thinner than the iPhone 3GS (but weighs 3 grams more), it has a front-facing camera (640 x 480) with "FaceTime" video calling (but it's Wi-Fi only), an LED flash alongside its new 5-megapixel camera's lens on the back, and separate buttons for volume up, down and mute. It also has a stainless steel rim that functions as the antenna.