The iOS 12 Beta process started out very smooth. Even Beta 1, which is notorious for being very buggy, slow, unstable and tough on a battery, was surprisingly solid this year. I usually hold out and wait for Beta 2, but I went ahead and ran the first Beta on my iPhone and didn’t have any major issues.
It occurred to me recently, after chatting with a couple of friends in Portland using my iPad, that video calling has actually become a regular and casual part of my life. It took a while to get here though.
There have long been ads for Rogers video calling on the subway, but they was restricted to cellphone calls over 3G, and there was a long time where many cellular devices still lacked a decent front-facing camera (if they had one at all). Video chatting has been around on the PC for a while in the form of “Skype dates” or meetings, but they were most often (and still are) scheduled events because they usually involve two parties logging onto a service and then making contact.
These days it has become trivial to start a video call with someone. That’s because of always-on services like FaceTime and Google Hangouts, where you can log in once and always be reachable, pending an Internet connection.
I don’t do it all the time, but it feels easy enough to ring someone up to check if they’re up for a video call. If they’re busy or don’t feel like being on camera, they’ll decline and message me back.
That’s significant because few of my friends are techies, so the fact that this has caught on with them means that this isn’t just me getting excited about the possibilities of technology to enhance our lives. This is one case of the future already feeling like it has come to pass, and I forgot to mark the exact date it all happened.
The downside of all of this is that video calls often ring across my Mac, iPhone, and iPad simultaneously, and answering the call on one device often leaves the other two ringing for a few seconds more…but I’m hoping someone smart will get to that at some point.
Rene Ritchie of TiPb posted earlier this week about a very nice new feature he tested out in the latest iOS 5 beta: AirPlay mirroring for FaceTime.
From the first time I used FaceTime on the iPad 2, I thought it was FaceTime at its best – largely due to the iPad 2’s lovely big screen.
Needless to say, being able to throw FaceTime up onto a big HD TV screen would take that to a whole new level. The the only big (BIG!) missing piece for FaceTime would be the promised cross-platform support.
Here’s hoping this feature stays in the final release of iOS 5.
9to5Mac have been seeing some evidence that using FaceTime over 3G may become an option in iOS 5 – including the screenshot shown above, submitted by one of their readers.
Here’s the not so fun part of this rumor:
but it will be up to carriers to allow it (like Tethering or VoIP apps)
It would be nice to see FaceTime available all the time, not just when you’ve got a WiFi connection – but judging by how ridiculously long we waited for AT&T to support tethering, I’d say AT&T users won’t want to hold their breath on this one.
Also, 3G FaceTime would be cool, but what would be far, far better would be to hear that Apple is making some progress on making it cross-platform. As long as it remains iOS and Mac only it’s going to be more of (rather lame) novelty than a powerful feature, and it certainly won’t compete with Skype unless Microsoft finds a way to bugger up its open-ness.
FaceTime is one of the two new built-in apps on the iPad 2 that take advantage of its new front and back facing cameras. It’s also one of the slick new features of the iPad 2 – and to me it feels like the iPad 2 is the natural and best fit for FaceTime.
It looks like not all iPad 2 users are having as good an experience as I have with FaceTime though. Apple Insider reports that a number of iPad2 users are having severe issues with the app freezing up.
A few kinks apparently still need to be ironed out with the newly released iPad 2, as some users have reported freezing issues with the FaceTime video chat feature, requiring a restart of the device.
A handful of users on Apple’s support forums have posted to a growing thread where they have described a problem where the image displayed by the forward-facing camera on the iPad 2 crashes in the FaceTime application.
I haven’t seen these sort of issues at all with FaceTime so far, and I’ve run it with many other apps also running in the background. I hope Apple’s next iOS update will squash these issues though.
How is FaceTime working for you so far? Are you seeing any freezing problems when using it?
Yesterday I got my first chance to try out FaceTime on the iPad 2, and boy am I glad I did. This is what FaceTime was always meant to be like. From the day it came out with the iPhone 4 it never felt totally right on that smaller screen. When it came to the Mac later last year, that was cool because it added millions of additional users you could use it with, but I’ve hardly ever used it on the desktop – as I much prefer Skype.
On the iPad 2 though, it just feels right. Like this is why we were all surprised the original iPad didn’t have cameras. The screen size is big enough to really enjoy the experience.
The best thing about using FaceTime on the iPad, which I became aware of thanks to this excellent post by Larry Greenberg at RunaroundTech, is that you can set your iPad in a stand, free up your hands, and multitask while you’re talking to work colleagues (Kids – please don’t do this when talking to grandma who lives far away!). The screen is big enough that you can still see the person or people you’re speaking to from a decent distance.
Larry and I did a quick FaceTime call yesterday and it was great using the iPad 2 this way, sitting in a BookArc stand alongside my MacBook Pro.
Having said all that, I’m also very keen to see Skype on iPad 2 when it has video chat enabled. I expect it will continue to offer more.
Have you tried out FaceTime on the iPad 2 yet? If so, what do you think of it?