FaceTime on the iPhone 4? Hmmm… not sure that is something I want to do, video conferencing on a phone. It sounds cool, but why? A rumor of this feature has been floating around the net for years. Folks kept saying that everything pointed this direction and that it was in Steve’s plan.
Then Steve demo’d it… well, tried to demo it. Seemed kind of cool, and got the folks at the office talking.
When our phones arrived, we kicked it off to give it a try. All you do is call someone and choose the FaceTime button on the screen when they answer. As soon as the other iPhone owner accepts your request, the call moves from the AT&T cell network and over to a available WiFi. Keep that in mind, you have to have an available WiFi supported Internet connection to use FaceTime.
In this first test, we had one iPhone connected to the company WiFi, which connects to a network through a firewall to a support center across the US, through another firewall and out into the world. The other iPhone was connected to a MiFi (Verizon 3G sharing out as a WiFi network). The two iPhones are at each end of a hall, the video was pretty smooth but voice/video is delayed a full second.
The screen shots are a bit more pixalated than what we were actually seeing on the screen. Since we were using the iPhones we could use them to take a picture so we relied on doing ‘screenshots’.
The second test was both iPhones on the MiFi networks so basically, on the same WiFi network. There was no delay in voice/video with almost no pixalation.
The picture-in-a-picture (your image) can be moved to any of the four corners of the screen.
The buttons along the bottom of the screen are for muting (‘muted’ appears on your screen but not the screen of the iPhone your talking to), ending the call and for switching between the two camera’s on the iPhone 4.
Being able to switch back and forth really makes FaceTime much more usable if your doing more than just talking face-to-face with others. As you tell the other party about what your seeing, you can switch to the camera on the other side and share the view together. Should be great to help doing support when a friend or family member has a problem. The days of the joke of telling someone to sit the phone on the computer so you can see what is wrong will actually work now!!
A feature we didn’t know about what that FaceTime works in both Portrait and Landscape views.
If you want to see how good the connection can actually be or want to have some one-on-one tips – Apple offers a number you can call and chat directly with a representative using FaceTime. The free service is offered 8 am to 8 pm central via 1-888-FACETIME .