As noted by poster “macrob” on MacTalk’s forums, the Apple Australian webpage for the recently announced iOS 6 suggests FaceTime over cellular will work on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 in Australia. As indicated in a fine print at the bottom of the page (point 4), ”FaceTime over a cellular network requires iPhone 4 or later, or iPad 2 or later with cellular data capability. Carrier data charges may apply. FaceTime is not available in all countries”. This compares to Apple’s other iOS 6 Preview webpages, where Apple states ”FaceTime over a cellular network requires iPhone 4S or iPad (3rd generation) with cellular data capability”.
Announced earlier this week by Scott Forstall at WWDC, FaceTime over cellular wasn’t given exact specifications on stage during the keynote; on Apple’s iOS 6 Preview webpage, a number of features — such as VIP list and Shared Photo Streams — are shown as available only on newer devices, as collected by MacRumors in this list. It appears Apple’s Australian website is the only one to report FaceTime over cellular as compatible with the iPhone 4 and iPad 2; every other webpage says the feature will only work on the iPhone 4S and iPad 3.
It is unclear whether the fine print on Apple’s Australian website could have been posted by mistake, or if Apple really is planning on supporting older devices for Australian customers. While technically possible as a number of jailbreak tweaks have shown in the past years, some have speculated Apple might want to limit FaceTime over cellular to newer devices due to their improved antenna design and networking capabilities over older generation models.
We have reached out to Apple for comment and we’ll update this story with clarifications when available.
Update: Apple’s Australian website has been updated to clarify FaceTime over cellular will work on the iPhone 4S or iPad 3.
Apple doesn’t just make a handsome phone — the iPhone has plenty of unique features that separate it from the competition. A pair of new iPhone commercials are taking the stage tonight, putting AirPlay and FaceTime in the spotlight. The commercials, both featuring the same catchy background jingle we’ve become familiar in the “If you don’t have an iPhone” series, show off just how easy it is to use the iPhone for sharing photos, videos, and conversations across the Apple TV, Mac, and iPad. While the commercials do come off a bit bumptious as usual in this series, the AirPlay commercial does a great job of showing off just how easy it is to stream media to your television or play music wirelessly through your home stereo system. AirPlay is something I’ve come to love in iOS 4 on my iPad and iPod touch, and I’m glad to see it getting its own air time in Apple’s latest set of commercials. Past the break we’ve posted both videos for your viewing enjoyment.
According to a report posted by website Apple-wd.com [Google Translation], the iOS 5 beta seeded to developers earlier this week doesn’t come with the FaceTime restrictions in Middle East countries we first covered back in October. Soon after Apple started removing graphics and mentions of FaceTime from its Saudi Arabia eight months ago, the company released an official document detailing the carriers that were not supporting FaceTime video calls on iOS — the document is still available here and shows Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates having FaceTime unavailable on certain carriers.
Other reports also confirmed FaceTime for Mac wasn’t showing Middle East countries as supported ones in the app’s preferences, which left us wondering why would the Mac version go under the same “rules” if a carrier wasn’t needed at all. Well, according to Apple-wd the iOS 5 beta has FaceTime working between iPhones in Saudi Arabia from STC and Mobily, as seen in the screenshot above.
Apple-wd speculates this might be a good indication of iOS 5 finally easing carrier restrictions on FaceTime which, as spotted at the WWDC keynote slides, is getting improvements for video call quality and may even work on 3G come the final release. However, it’s also possible that carriers will update their configuration files when iOS 5 is released publicly to block FaceTime again.
9to5mac has posted a screenshot passed along by a reader, in which iOS 5 shows an alert box asking the user to turn on cellular data or WiFi to use FaceTime. By playing around with the iOS 5 preferences in Settings->General->Network, we’ve found how to replicate the “issue”: turn off Cellular Data in the Network tab, open FaceTime’s prefs inside the Settings app, and you should get the alert box. If it doesn’t come up, try to turn FaceTime off and on again, making sure Cellular Data is still set to off. iOS 5 will tell you that you need data (3G) or WiFi to use FaceTime.
This could be big news for iPhone and iPad owners as FaceTime is currently restricted to WiFi networks, with many obviously speculating that the carriers forced Apple to make FaceTime available only on faster WiFi connections. On the other hand though, it needs to be mentioned that the jailbreak tweaks that enabled FaceTime on 3G on iOS 4.3 proved that, with less than optimal 3G speeds, FaceTime could be pretty terrible without WiFi.
However, there’s one last piece to consider: at the WWDC ’11 keynote, a slide showed by Scott Forstall on stage briefly hinted at improved video quality coming in FaceTime on iOS 5, alongside mid-call invitation alerts. See the image from This Is My Next’s liveblog:
Whether this means iOS 5 will finally bring the possibility to video call on the go it’s unclear at this point, and there’s a very good chance the alert box above is simply an iOS bug from the first beta. Or, Apple could be really working closely with selected carriers to enable FaceTime on 3G, at no additional costs.
After the music video shot entirely using the iPad 2′s cameras, here comes another one — this time from Canadian band The Blue Stones — which features a couple of iPhone 4s and FaceTime. The video itself was recorded using an HD camera (you can tell from the 1080p option available in the Youtube embed), but band members had the idea to add a unique geek twist to the whole concept, and play the song back recording everything via FaceTime.
Duct tape was used to cover the FaceTime UI on the iPhones (pretty much like movie directors constantly modify the iPhone’s on-screen interface to maintain the “fiction” effect) and, overall, the result is interesting. If only because it shows how much popular iOS devices have become over the years and how FaceTime video quality is far from perfect most of the times (unlike Apple’s webpages suggests in the screenshots).
Check out the video below. [via TUAW]
AppleInsider points to an issue with the FaceTime app on the iPad 2 that happened to me last night: after a video call with a friend, I came back to the app and found that the image on screen was completely frozen. FaceTime was displaying a static image of the front-facing camera when I hung up the call, and starting a new one wasn’t fixing the problem. I tried to quit and re-open the FaceTime app, but the frozen image was still there. So I restarted my device, and FaceTime correctly captured video from the front-facing camera again.
It happens quite frequently,” user “leov36″ wrote of the issue. “Restarting the ipad fixes the problem, BUT, it happens again with in the next two to three times i go to use it.
When I opened up FaceTime the first time, the camera was working fine, but now whenever I open it up, it just shows a still image from when I left,” user “CRK The Man” wrote. “How can I fix it?
It appears that this issue is very common among early iPad 2 adopters, and a user on Apple Discussions also claims a Verizon Store manager told him several demo units displayed the freezing FaceTime image inside the store. It seems that for now the only solution is rebooting the iPad 2, but I don’t think (unlike several users have reported on Apple Discussions) that restoring the device is necessary.
The issue will likely be fixed in the upcoming iOS 4.3.1 upgrade, but if you’re experiencing it right now all you can do is shut down the iPad and restart it.
So I just got my iPad 2, and right after restoring from an iPad 1 backup and syncing all my apps, I wanted to try FaceTime on it. Mainly to test the quality of the cameras (they do decent videos, but they’re not really that great) and the FaceTime application itself, I immediately set up a new email account to use with the iPad 2.
FaceTime on the iPad asks you to create a new email address on first launch; however, you can further tweak your settings, Apple ID and available email addresses in the Settings app under “FaceTime”. In this tab, I logged in with my Apple ID and assigned a new email — different from the ones I use on my MacBook Pro (Apple ID) and iMac (2nd email address). On the iPad, I set up a third email so I can make sure calls are always routed to the right device. I noticed that the verification process failed at first (I didn’t get any email from Apple), so I deleted the email address, entered it again and waited for the confirmation email. After a few minutes, FaceTime was correctly functioning on my iPad 2.
With FaceTime up and running, I wanted to give a shot to an old trick we first covered in October: auto-answering FaceTime calls on a Mac. Why would you want to do that? Simple: to turn your desktop computer into a remote monitoring tool for when you’re not around. Stuff like remotely checking on your room or home office. I leave my computers always on most of the times I have to go out, so it’s not a big deal for me. Plus, I think it’s just neat that you can fire up your iPhone or iPad 2 while on the go to call your Mac and automatically see what’s going in front of the iSight without needing a person to hit the Confirm button. (more…)
If you’ve recently bought an iPad 2 WiFi + 3G (good luck finding one now with a 4-5 weeks wait on the Apple Store) and your friends have told you they can’t really hear you on FaceTime, that might be a problem with the microphone in your 3G model. According to iLounge, the iPad 2 WiFi offers clearer microphone quality as the microphone has been placed in the top metal housing, whilst it sits in the plastic antenna band on the iPad WiFi + 3G.
Perhaps due to this change in materials, the Wi-Fi model offers markedly cleaner audio than that of the 3G, which sounds slightly muffled and echo-prone as a result. Curiously, we found the GSM 3G model’s audio to be slightly preferable to that of the CDMA model, which seemed to suffer the issues more severely.
The iPad 2 saw a change in size and shape of the microphone, and iLounge reports the differences in sonic qualities can be clearly spotted in apps like FaceTime with the iPad’s screen facing the user. If you have a 3G iPad 2 and you’ve spotted these differences, too, please let us know in the comments below.
Back in October of last year, it was reported that several countries in Africa and the Middle East were excluded from Apple’s list of supported countries for FaceTime on the iPhone, iPod touch and Mac. Not only did Apple mysteriously remove mentions of FaceTime from Saudi Arabia’s website, they later confirmed through an official document that carriers were blocking video calling on the iPhone and even went ahead to restrict FaceTime for Mac (which doesn’t rely on any mobile carrier — well, unless you tether your Mac to an iPhone) to specific countries in the application’s preferences. After months of discussions and hacks to enable FaceTime on African and Middle Eastern handsets, the takeaway was that carriers were definitely putting a lot of pressure on Apple for some reason.
The first step towards FaceTime availability in these countries has finally been taken by Vodafone, which has enabled FaceTime in Egypt with a carrier software update for iPhone. As noted by SaudiMac, the update simply adds a boolean string to the iPhone’s configuration file with video calling set to “yes”. This leads us to think that carriers can restrict and restore FaceTime at any time with software updates — something Apple can’t apparently control.
Egypt is still included in the countries with blocked FaceTime, but we guess it will updated soon with possibly more countries receiving carrier updates. [via SaudiMac]