iPhone 4 Facetime
iPhone 4 Facetime – a new way to communicate
Meet George Jetson, his boy Elroy, Daughter Judy, Jane his wife….. That tune for me brings back memories of one of my favorite cartoon shows. Although it was a little bit before my time I loved watching reruns of the Jetsons and always dreamed about life in the future. Flying cars, robots and video calls. They all seemed so cool and although it was just a cartoon I couldn’t wait for this type of technology to be real. Growing up I was amazed with futuristic sci-fi shows and movies, they made my imaginazation run wild with all the cool things technology and gadgets could do in the future. When Steve Jobs rolled out the latest iPhone this year he said to Jonny Ive on a live video call “I grew up here in the US with the Jetsons…. dreaming about video calling and its real now”. It is real now and I have to say almost as cool as I could have imagined.
This is the one feature I have been wanting and waiting for since the first iPhone. One of our first steps into the world of the Jetsons, Star Trek and other sci-fi shows. Apple calls this technology FaceTime and while it isn’t the first device to offer video chat it still is very amazing and will change the way that we communicate. Here are our first thoughts on FaceTime.
First off the implementation of this is simply Apple, easy to use and it just works. Apple has been known for focusing on having technology that is amazing but not really show to the end user. They want their technology to be so great that the end user doesn’t really notice it and FaceTime is a perfect example of that. There is nothing to setup, no extra app to download its all built into the iPhone and made to work seamlessly. To initiate a FaceTime call all you have to do is call another iPhone 4 user and once you are connected with them tap on the FaceTime icon on the center of your phone (it looks like a little video camera). It will send a message to the other party that you have initiated a FaceTime call and once they accept a full screen image comes up with the other person. The quality of the calls is very good but just like anything with a camera phone lighting is the key. I have noticed with FaceTime calls where the other person is inside and poorly lit the resolution of the video can look pretty choppy and pixelated. But head outside or somewhere with enough light and the video quality becomes very good. WIth FaceTime you also have the ability to switch between the front and back camera, all you have to do is tap the icon on the bottom right and it will switch cameras for you. This feature is very useful, you are talking to Grandpa one day and your kids are running around the house just switch to the back camera and let Grandpa see all the action just like he was there.
Having used skype to talk with my out of town family and friends for awhile I think where the iPhone really hits it out of the park with FaceTime is in how the interface (or lack of it) is displayed. It is so simple just a full screen image of the person you are talking to with a small insert of your cameras feed that you start to talk to the person on the other line and the more you talk the more the technology just fades away. You start to feel like you are there chatting with them in person. Because you have no laptop setup with a large screen, keyboard and all the extras around it the video chat with an iPhone 4 feel much more personal and intimate. It is a great example of amazing technology that is so hidden from the user you don’t notice it at all, instead you focus on whats most important… the person talking right in front of you. I have really enjoyed using FaceTime so far and can’t wait for more of my friends and family to get an iPhone 4 so I can use it even more.
The only negative thing about FaceTime is you have to use it while connected to wi-fi. Steve Jobs did say when this was released that they do plan on making it available for 3G down the road but for now it’s a wi-fi only feature. This is too bad because when you are on the road and traveling this is when FaceTime might come in the most handy.