In episode 20 of The Bro Show, Myke, Terry and guest Patrick discussed something I want to expand upon. Namely, the future of FaceTime, the mobile video calling solution that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4. It’s certainly the device’s marquee feature.
Myke made an astute observation: if you consider the television ads that have aired so far, you’ll notice that Apple hasn’t advertised the iPhone 4 per se. Instead, it’s advertised FaceTime. FaceTime is the product and the iPhone 4 is the delivery system. Of course that will change, but how and when? Here are my thoughts.
FaceTime for Mac
During The Bro Show, the guys suggested that iChat will be replaced with “FaceTime for Mac.” I agree and expect it to be a part of Mac OS 10.7. It will allow those without an iPhone 4 to enjoy a FaceTime call with those who have one. Just consider the huge number of machines Apple has shipped with iSight cameras built in. To implement it, Apple can expand upon the video conferencing features that are already a part of iChat.
FaceTime for iPod touch
This is a logical evolution of the touch and I expect to see a demo at Apple’s September 1 press event. The addition of a front-facing camera should necessitate a redesign of the super-thin touch to accommodate the hardware. It will be interesting to see if Apple goes with a flat back and, if so, what it will be made of. As the guys pointed out in The Bro Show, there’s no need for a wrap-around antenna as the touch is Wi-Fi only.
The iPod nano is capable of video, but FaceTime will be restricted to the touch. The nano has long been the best-selling iPod model (as the mini was before it), and the low price is primarily responsible. Plus the screen is too small and adding the camera and Wi-Fi hardware would necessitate a redesign that would turn it essentially into a touch.
FaceTime for iPad
Here’s something that many people are looking forward to, myself included. However, I don’t expect to see it this year. Look for an announcement in January.
You can blame this restriction on AT&T, but I think they’ll soon make this available. Now that the unlimited data plan no longer exists, data-hungry customers switch from being a network-taxing hindrance to a new cost center. Do you plan on making lots of FaceTime calls? Then opt for the higher-priced data plan.
The main problem with FaceTime right now, aside from requiring Wi-Fi, is that both parties must have an iPhone 4 to participate. By significantly expanding the pool of participants, Apple will finally bring the “Jetsons phone” to the masses.