When FaceTime over cellular first launched as a feature on iPhones and iPads back in September 2012, Apple allowed wireless carriers to determine how they’d implement it. Verizon Wireless and Sprint simply opened it up to all customers with a data plan. But AT&T, not exactly known for outstanding customer service, decided to limit FaceTime only to those customers who paid for shared data plans. The move drew the ire of iPhone and iPad users on the carrier and even drew the attention of the FCC. After public pressure mounted, AT&T took a step back and opened up FaceTime to users with LTE-equipped iDevices, but those on older models were still out of luck.
Today, the company has seemingly come to its senses, announcing on its consumer blog that FaceTime over cellular will be made available to all iPhone and iPad owners with a data plan.
By now you have most likely heard that Verizon now will be offering the iPhone as of February 3rd for existing customers and then rolling it out to everyone on the 10th. Are you considering switching from AT&T to Verizon? Here are some things you will want to know to make switching your iPhone carrier a bit easier.
First, let’s start by discussing what is the same on both AT&T and Verizon. No matter if you are on AT&T or Verizon your iPhone will feature the Retina display, the App Store, 5-megapixel camera with LED Flash, Safari web browser, iPod functionality, HD video recording, and the A4 processor.
One of the most prominent features in the Apple iPhone 4 is the ability to make handset-to-handset video calls between other iPhone 4 users through a built-in application dubbed as “FaceTime”. While this is a great feature – especially seeing as how the device has both a front and rear-facing camera – many people have been quick to point out one major flaw in the concept; FaceTime only works over WiFi. This means users that are not in range of a wireless access point cannot take advantage of FaceTime via their 3G data service. While some people have learned to live with this limitations, others have circumvented the issue altogether by using jailbroken iPhone firmware. However, amidst their recent meltdown, Skype has managed to revamp their mobile application for the iOS platform, which now allows users to conduct video calls between other Skype users – over WiFi or 3G.
While the Skype application is not as “native” as FaceTime in the sense that it’s developed by Apple, the fact of the matter is both Apple and Skype have the potential to benefit from this sofware update. You see, this introduction will likely add new users to Skype’s user-base (or refresh current users), meaning Skype will be seen as a larger and more “standard” network to conduct business on. From there, I’m sure Skype will see an influx of users on the PC and Macintosh platforms in a snowball-type effect.
Recently it was reported that Skype filed for an IPO. In the filing, one particular number that stood out to me and a few others I’m sure was that Skype “users made 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls” during the first half of 2010, with a full 40 percent of those minutes being video. Stop right there. So, 40 percent of the 95 billion minutes used by Skype users in the first half of 2010 were video calls? That’s 38 billion minutes of video calling. That is amazing and it is also just what Apple needs.
A Skype acquisition by Apple would be perfect. Not only does Apple acquire Skype, it would further enhance FaceTime. As I wrote about in my previous article on FaceTime for the iPod the potential for FaceTime (or an equivalent) on Mac OS X is huge. A Skype acquisition could be the way in. You could have unlimited Skype-to-Skype, FaceTime-to-FaceTime, and with an acquisition, FaceTime-to-Skype video calls on all devices. iPhone’s, iPod’s, and Mac OS X computers.