11 Comments

Summary:

Isn’t it time for Apple to make good on its promise to make FaceTime an open standard? After all, the video service arrived in June of 2010 and we haven’t heard a peep on any effort to open up FaceTime for use on other platforms.

skype-vs-facetime

Consumers scored a bit of a small win in the U.S. this week as AT&T decided to reverse course and allow FaceTime video calls over LTE for customers on tiered data plans. To be honest, the carrier should have done so from the beginning; here’s an excellent post from Chris Ziegler at the The Verge on why.

After the news hit, I actually considered buying an iPad mini with cellular connectivity since many of my contacts use iOS. I bought a Wi-Fi model of the mini — it’s replacing a Retina display iPad 3 for me — and I can still return it for a different model. That idea went out the window once I realized that FaceTime is still a silo, even though at launch, Steve Jobs said Apple would work to make it a standard notes a 2010 Computerworld article:

“Apple will ship tens of millions of FaceTime devices this calendar year, so there’s going to be a lot of people to talk to. FaceTime is based on H.264 video … and a bunch of alphabet-soup acronyms. We’re going to the standards bodies tomorrow and making FaceTime an open standard.”

As one who follows some standards boards, particular those in the wireless industry, I realize that such things take time. But remember: FaceTime was introduced in June 2010 and since that time, not a single piece of information suggests that Apple is working with any standards body to open up FaceTime for use on anything but iOS or OS X. Contrast that to my other heavily used video services, which are Google video chats now done through Google+ hangouts, and Skype.

Both of these services run on every device I own, regardless of platform. That means I’m accessible at any point in time, no matter where I am, what network I’m using and what device I have. Isn’t that the point of instant communications? It’s for these reasons that I use such services. In this day and age, we all want to be connected to our friends and peers without having to worry what device those people are using.

Listen, I love FaceTime. I find it to be one of the better performing video services out there and until my son moved in with me, it’s what I used to communicate with him daily. Two-and-a-half years after FaceTime was introduced, however, I don’t want to ping him on FaceTime, hoping he has his iPod touch with him only to see no response because he’s instead using his Android phone.

I know I’m oversimplifying here, but this is akin to limiting voice calls only to work on phones made by the same company. It’s a huge step backwards in an age where we’ve seen so much forward progress and the removal of communications silos.

If I could make one request it would be this, in my best Ronald Reagan impersonation: “Mr. Cook; Tear down this wall!” Let’s get FaceTime support through open standards and let the video calls flow on all platforms and devices already.

  1. I would have liked to have had WebRTC mentioned in this particularly as we talk about the future of communications and standards bodies.

  2. Apple just got hit with a $368 million dollar patent infringement verdict on technology contained in FaceTime. If Apple doesn’t own the technology, they can’t open source it.

  3. Trent Johnsen Friday, November 9, 2012

    You’re absolutely right Kevin & we’re not waiting for Apple. Hookflash has open sourced Open Peer, so anyone can integrate Facetime functionality (including IM). http://openpeer.org/. The reference client, Hookflash for iPad demonstrates the use of social as directory, in this case LinkedIn. Facetime, along with Skype & Google have maintained a “subscriber” based view of the world where we have to sign up. Your friends and peers are in your social directories, Open Peer will connect you there.

    1. Dan Villiom Podlaski Christiansen Trent Johnsen Friday, November 9, 2012

      Of course; the answer to any problem with any standard is always to create another one…

      http://xkcd.com/927/

  4. Jose Gabriel Marcelino Friday, November 9, 2012

    No thanks. I get enough spam via open SMS. Last thing Apple should do is open FaceTime to others outside their control.

    Is it that different from what BBM has successfully done for so many years?

  5. Maybe you should try other alternatives and stop depending on one solution. I have been using GTALK for at least 3 years over cellular network, and i know there are plenty of other options. Cheers!

    1. Abi, I noted in my post that I do use Google Talk. ;) But the issue isn’t just what *I* use; it’s what *others* use, no?

      1. LOL!! How i missed that.. And you are correct about “what everybody else’s use”, but someone has to make the change, and if you think about it it would make more sense if you have an option that runs on multiple platforms then the one that only runs on a single one. I guess since we are a little more involve with technology is easier for us to adapt to the ones that aren’t. Sorry i wasn’t trying to troll… Cheers!!

  6. Without any ability to communicate with vendor agnostic H.323 endpoints or dial into cloud hosted video bridges or even corporate on premise video bridges Apple FaceTime is just the consumer junk like all Apple product is moving towards. Apple dropped the Computer from its name a long time ago for this very reason.

    They don’t make computers they just make gadgets.

  7. This time a thousand. I have never forgotten the promise they made to open this up.

  8. I think The meant they would opensource the technology and the algorythms not the program.

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