Video Chat: FaceTime Promised for iPhone 4

The fact that the iPhone even has a video camera is still a little hard for some people to wrap their heads around.  After the first couple generations of the iPhone on a still camera only routine it took us a while to realize that we could not only take amazingly framed videos from our smart phone, but we could also get them online in record time.  One of the major technological innovations that is coming through at the WWDC is the ability for a forward facing iPhone camera, to catch those pearly blues that are staring down at the touch screen.  The essential purpose for this is to extend video chat to the iPhone in a realistic way, a standard that has been set by Apple's own built in iMac webcams.  

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FaceTime, which is what the video chat software has been labeled for iPhone 4, is going to utilize these built in features for real time video chat.  iPhone 4 users will only be able to use FaceTime along with Wi-Fi for the rest of 2010, but it is unclear after that.  This may be because of fears about how FaceTime may affect regular AT&T use, which is similar to much of the panic when Skype was released as a free iPhone application.

The set up made familiar with Apple favorites like iChat is extended to FaceTime on the iPhone 4.  You will have the dominant image on your screen be that of your friend, with a small picture of you in the lower corner to remind yourself what you look like when staring at your cell phone.  You can use FaceTime in both the landscape and portrait views, which is a nice option depending on preference.  Luckily FaceTime will be integrated into the regular iPhone functions, allowing for regular video calls to come in the same way that standard ones do.

The limitations are pretty serious, especially since currently FaceTime will only be able to be used between to iPhone 4s.  This attests to Apple's self important design nature that shuts out competitors, but Steven Jobs has said that he will make it available for use with a variety of mobile platforms.  This is going to be key if he wants FaceTime to be a significant presence in the future of mobile communication.

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