FaceTime long overdue to be an open standard
When FaceTime was announced, it was said to be built on open standards and it would be open allowing others to build on top of it. This was in September 2010.
It has been over two years, and there is no such thing as an open standards compliant FaceTime. Today you still need to use an iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone to make use of FaceTime.
When I unboxed my Nexus 7 tablet, the first question Sara asked me was if we could now FaceTime using that tablet. You see, we’ve gotten quite used to using FaceTime to keep in touch with each other as we are frequently thousands of miles apart, as I travel a lot.
Lately, Apple has even enabled FaceTime over 3G if you have an iPhone 4S or greater. I’m sure they fear that if it were an open standard, it would probably work on my iPhone 4 as well, thru third party software.
Most importantly as to why I’d like to see FaceTime to be an open standard? Ubiquity. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could use an Android tablet to talk to an iPad?
There was a 3G video standard quite some time back. I think Nokia might have pioneered it. Video calling over 3G was made popular on the Three network in Australia for example. This was in the early days of 3G usage (most phones still did GPRS, then EDGE, back then). I recall being able to make 10 minute calls over Three for free. It meant many people carried one regular phone, and one Three phone. Most importantly, this was based on open standards: an LG phone, spoke perfectly to an Ericsson one, which in turn spoke perfectly to a Nokia one.
I recall Apple denouncing video calling over the 3G network when FaceTime was launched. You needed bandwidth they said, so the experience was best delivered over WiFi. With the advent of LTE, they now believe you can do it over the wireless networks (in iOS6). But you’re locked in with whom you can speak to – other Apple users.
So, the late Steve Jobs vaguely promised that FaceTime would be open. Will the current Tim Cook make this happen?