As time ticked on in Steve Jobs' keynote at Monday's WWDC conference, we kept waiting for the Apple chief to showcase the iPhone 4's front-facing camera. When he finally did, it wasn't a Skype video conferencing app that many expected, but Apple's own software, called FaceTime.
FaceTime is built into the version 4 operating system that Apple is now calling iOS 4, since it powers the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Using the front-facing camera, two callers will be able to see and hear each other in a high-definition video call.
The good news is that FaceTime will require no setup, so firing up video chats should be intuitive even for VoIP novices. Here's the setback: at launch, FaceTime will run only over Wi-Fi, and only on the iPhone 4.
We understand that hardware and software requirements like a front-facing camera and HD video recorder would cause Apple to limit FaceTime calls to between iPhone 4 phones, but we are surprised that Apple isn't taking advantage of 3G calling, particularly since it's been six months since the company allowed third-party developers to add 3G calls to VoIP apps.
The bigger question on our minds, however, is just how big a blow FaceTime will deliver to Skype and other competing VoIP services.… Read more