Home Your Tech Mobility Apple's FaceTime freakin' rocks

Although Apple has introduced video calls nearly a decade after the first 3G video calls started to be made, Apple's Skype-esque video calling works a freakin' treat, as long as you are in range of Wi-Fi.

A friend is currently overseas, having purchased a new iPhone 4 a couple of days before departing for the US, and I've just had the opportunity to have a Facetime chat.

Sure, it's not my first FaceTime chat, I've already made several on the device, but as long as you're in Wi-Fi, it works wonderfully well, far surpassing the video glitch-a-thon that is 3G video calls, with FaceTime looking like a Skype or iChat video call, rather than the 56kbps postage stamp-sized 1997 Real Player-esque video that is 3G video calling.

I haven't had the chance to try the FaceTime beta for Mac OS X as yet, as I'm yet to own a Mac OS X device - I only own iOS devices at the moment (and Windows 7 computers), but the more ways to FaceTime, the merrier.

Anyway, I wasn't FaceTimeing to a computer, but to another iPhone 4, and it just works.

My friend is at Stanford University in the US, and was sitting outside the Apple store, slurping their free Wi-Fi to make that FaceTime call. I'm sitting at home where I have Wi-Fi.

We've just spent the last 20 minutes talking about all kinds of things, I've had a mini tour of the area outside the Apple store, watching along with my friend the people walking by, in excellent video quality (as compared with regular 3G video calls).

One of my previous FaceTime calls was to a friend thousands of kilometres away in Far North Queensland - he'd also just bought an iPhone 4 (it finally arrived after a wait of a few weeks for stock to arrive) and likewise, within just a couple of minutes, we had FaceTime going.

We've all used Skype for video calls, and we all love Skype, but there's something special about great quality video calls from a handheld device that you can easily move around, and as FaceTime improves to presumably eventually work over 3G, and work with more than two video callers, it'll get even better.

Perhaps some of those TV manufacturers should be including FaceTime in their TV sets, and not just Skype - providing Apple is happy for this to happen. Perhaps Apple would prefer end-users to buy a Mac Mini and plug that into their TVs instead, along with a webcam of some kind.

Continued on page two, please read on!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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