Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘FaceTime’

AT&T’s FaceTime Restrictions Could Be Violating FCC Rules ➝

Brian Chen:

Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that focuses on Internet law, says that by prohibiting its other customers from using the video-calling feature on the network, AT&T is violating net-neutrality rules by blocking a service that potentially competes with its own.

No word from the FCC yet, but I hope they do the right thing and keep AT&T from blocking FaceTime for its non-shared data customers. I’ve been holding onto unlimited data since the release of the original iPhone and would prefer to keep it rather than move over to the shared data plans just for FaceTime.

AT&T Won’t Charge for FaceTime Over Cellular ➝

Jordan Golson writing for MacRumors:

AT&T will not charge customers for using the FaceTime over Cellular feature in iOS 6, but will require users to be on one of its new Mobile Share data plans.

Sounds like I might have to give up my unlimited data plan.

FaceTime on the Mac App Store ➝

FaceTime 1.0 is now available on the Mac App Store. Macworld’s Dan Moren says that the $0.99 charge for the application is “regulatory related.”

Rumored iPad 2 Hardware Features

DigiTimes is reporting that the Economic Daily News has cited “industry sources” who claim that the unannounced iPad 2 will feature the following five new features:

  • FaceTime
  • Smaller size panels featuring thinner glass
  • 3-axis gyroscope
  • A USB port
  • Retina Display

Let’s tackle these one at a time.

FaceTime is practically a guarantee at this point. Apple has added it to the iPod touch and Mac OS X, so the next logical step is to add it to the iPad. But then comes the question of whether the iPad will have one or two cameras. I think the folks at Apple are smart enough to realize that a camera on the rear of the iPad is just silly. I just can’t imagine anyone holding their iPad up in the air to take a picture or record a video. If you want to do that, an iPhone or iPod touch is the best device for the job.

In regards to the smaller size panels featuring thinner glass, I just don’t buy it. This smaller panel would likely be 7-inches and Steve Jobs has already killed that rumor.

Steve Jobs during Apple’s conference call last month (as transcribed by Macworld):

If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view, and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on these seven-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad’s display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps, in our opinion.

Everyone likes to that Steve says one thing and then releases a product anyway (like the video iPod) but I don’t think that’s the case this time. I’ve spent a little bit of time with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and feels claustrophobic to me. 7-inches is too small. The iPad’s screen size strikes a perfect balance between size and portability. 7-inches on the other hand would force me to use my MacBook in situations that I would normal be comfortable using the iPad, effectively limiting the usefulness of the tablet to too few situations.

The 3-axis gyroscope is practically a lock. It’s in the iPod touch and the iPhone and it’s coming to the iPad as well. It’ll improve game controls and unify the feature across all iOS devices.

I highly doubt the iPad will be gaining a USB port. One could argue that a USB port would make the iPad more computer-like but Apple doesn’t want the iPad to feel like a computer, they want it to feel like something different. And the biggest problem with adding a USB port is that users would have an expectation that it would work with external hard drives, printers, and all sorts of other peripherals that iOS may never support.

And finally, the Retina display. A Retina display on the iPad would be absolutely stunning but the problem is that the only logical resolution is 2048×1536. And a 9.7-inch panel at that resolution wouldn’t have high enough manufacturing yields and would be too expensive to sell at Apple’s current price points. They could release the iPad 2 with a higher resolution than the current 1024×768 resolution but lower than the logical 2048×1536 but that would make very difficult for developers to build assets at both resolutions, simply because the math wouldn’t work out well.

Apple has just released iOS 4.2, the iPad’s first major update and with it came huge software changes. Because of this, I have a feeling that most of the iPad 2’s new features will be hardware-based. Whether it will gain any of the features mentioned above remains to be seen but I think the 3-axis gyroscope and FaceTime are the only safe bets at this point.

Thoughts on ‘Back to the Mac’

Steve Jobs took stage on Wednesday for Apple’s Back to the Mac event where there were several big, Mac-related announcements. The event felt much larger than I thought it would and confirmed that Apple hasn’t been resting on their laurels when it comes to the Mac side of their business. Mac sales are stronger than ever and will continue to improve as Apple remains at their current pace of improving products.

iLife ’11

Apple released iLife ’11 on Wednesday and with it came updated versions of iPhoto, GarageBand, and iMovie. The suite itself has followed Snow Leopard’s lead and is available for only $49. I can’t say much about iMovie and GarageBand because I really don’t use them. But, they look like great updates to a couple of already fantastic applications.

In regards to iPhoto, Facebook users can now more easily upload photos directly to the site and you can view comments on photos from your friends on Facebook from within iPhoto. The new slideshows look fantastic, I really enjoyed the places slideshow that Phil Schiller demoed on stage. And, the ability to email photos from within iPhoto looks really handy.

One of the big new features that has come to iPhoto is a fullscreen mode that gets rid of distractions and allows you to use every feature of the application without ever leaving fullscreen mode. What I find most interesting is just how much the application feels like an iOS app when in this fullscreen mode. It makes me wonder if Apple was planning (or is planning) to release iPhoto or other iLife applications for the iPad. I can see how easily iPhoto’s fullscreen user interface could translate to a touchscreen device.


Apple is pushing FaceTime into more places and now you can FaceTime on your Mac. I’m a little surprised that FaceTime wasn’t integrated into iChat but I’m starting to get the feeling that Apple is getting ready to end development of iChat. FaceTime will be Apple’s preferred means of video chatting and unless Apple comes up with a brand new instant messaging platform that works across all of their devices, SMS on your iPhone will likely be Apple’s preferred text chatting platform.

Mac OS X Lion

Apple has released seven major Mac OS versions in the past decade, and in Summer 2011 Apple will release their eighth. Apple only previewed three major new features in Lion but already this is looking to be a pretty hefty update. With Lion Apple has decided to take some of the innovations that they’ve made with iOS and bring them back to the Mac. One of those innovations is application home screens which on the Mac will be dubbed “Launchpad.” Launchpad displays all of the applications installed on your Mac in easy to navigate pages with the ability to quickly organize your applications with iOS-style folders.

Just like iPhoto’s fullscreen mode, Apple will be bringing system-wide support for fullscreen applications. Switch between these fullscreen apps and your desktop with just simple swipe gesture on the trackpad or Magic Mouse. I love the idea of fullscreen applications. There are a lot of apps that would benefit from the increased screen real estate and the lack of distractions that comes from viewing them in fullscreen mode.

With Mac OS X Lion, Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces, and fullscreen applications will be unified into one place that Apple is calling “Mission Control.” Using a swipe gesture pulls you out of your current application and into a bird’s-eye view of everything running on your Mac. Whether your looking for a dashboard widget, a Safari window, or iPhoto in fullscreen mode, you can find it with Mission Control. I don’t use Dashboard or Spaces and rarely use Exposé, I usually use command+tab when trying to find another application. But, I can see myself using Mission Control, especially with the addition of fullscreen apps — I can see how things could get a little hairy trying to find the application your looking for when you have multiple fullscreen apps, multiple spaces, multiple windows, and a few dashboard widgets.

Mac App Store

Another of Apple’s big announcement at the event was the Mac App Store which Steve Jobs said would be coming to the Mac within 90 days. The Mac App Store will work just like the App Store on iOS, there will be a 70/30 split between developers and Apple and applications will need to be submitted and approved by Apple. Applications will automatically install when purchased and users will be able to update their applications with one click from within the Mac App Store. Users will be able to re-download applications to their Mac that they’ve already purchased and the applications will be licensed for use on all of the Macs you own.

The biggest difference between the iOS and Mac App Stores is that the Mac App Store isn’t the only place you’ll be able to purchase and/or download applications from. Developers that choose not to release through the Mac App Store or applications that Apple is unwilling to approve can still be distributed as they are today.

I think the Mac App Store is going to be huge for users switching from the PC. I can see many of my friends and family members feeling significantly less hesitant to make the switch knowing that they have one place to go if they need to find an application for their new Mac. No need to do any Google searching, just fire up the Mac App Store and they’ll likely find what their looking for in just a few minutes. And, because Apple has approved all of the applications they don’t need to worry about whether or not the application is doing anything nefarious.

The only real worry I have with the Mac App Store is for developers whose applications aren’t able to be approved by Apple. There will always be Mac applications that Apple will never approve for their App Store (Handbrake, Transmission, etc.) and there will also be applications that get rejected for silly reasons, it’ll be even more difficult than it already is for those developers’ applications to get noticed by users if they’re not in the Mac App Store.

MacBook Air

Apple’s final announcement came as no surprise to anyone, a brand new 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch MacBook Air. The new MacBook Air starts at a jaw-dropping $999 for the 11.6-inch model with the 13.3-inch starting at $1,299. All models come with a solid-state disk (SSD), MacBook Pro-style glass trackpad, two USB ports, and NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics and are available today. These new MacBook Airs have a boot time of less than 15 seconds thanks to their SSD and have 5 and 7 hours of battery life for the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch models respectively. They both feature LED-backlit displays with a resolution of 1366×768 for the 11.6-inch model and 1440×900 for the 13.3-inch model.

Apple has raised the bar even higher for notebook computers and are really giving PC manufacturers a run for their money. $999 for a notebook with a build quality of the 11.6-inch MacBook Air is an unbelievable deal and makes the decision between the MacBook Air and MacBook even more difficult for most. The release of the iPad pushed my planned purchase of a new notebook back 6-12 months and I’m glad it did. When I finally purchase a new notebook the MacBook Air is going to be the perfect choice. I already have an iMac at home and don’t need a notebook to act as my full time computer. I just need it for when I want to do some writing in the living room or when I am going on a trip and want something a little more powerful than my iPad.

When I make the purchase I believe I’ll be getting the 11.6-inch MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD, 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, and 4GB of RAM. That’ll bring my purchase price up to $1,399 but I think I’ll be much happier with the larger drive, faster processor, and you can never have too much RAM. It’s a small price to pay that will increase the life of the computer another year or two.

iPhone 4

Apple has finally revealed the next iPhone, dubbed iPhone 4, at today’s WWDC keynote.

iPhone 4 features an all new design, it’s 9.3mm thick which is 24% thinner than the iPhone 3GS. The device has a glass front and back — the same glass used in helicopter windshields and high-speed trains. The glass is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, this should cut down on the number of shattered screens I see on iPhones all the time.

They’ve also introduced what they call the “Retina display” which has a 960×640 resolution which features an impressive 326 pixels per inch and uses IPS and LED backlighting. Text and controls in current applications will be rendered at the higher resolution, so apps will look better at no extra work to developers.

The metal band around the sides of the device are made of stainless steel and are not only the mounting point for all the components of the iPhone 4 but is also part of the antenna system in the phone. Because of the use of this metal band there was room in the iPhone to increase the size of the battery. You’ll now get 7 hours of 3G talk time, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, and 300 hours of standby.

iPhone 4 has a microphone at the top for noise cancellation, a front-facing camera, a gyroscope, and A4 processor. The back camera is 5 megapixels and sits next to an LED flash for low-light photographs. And, it is capable of recording 720p video at 30fps.

Apple has also introduced FaceTime video calling. It will be iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 at launch, but is being released as an open standard so that (hopefully) soon you’ll be able to call non-iPhone users and video chat with them. You’ll be able to switch between cameras and view it in portrait or landscape. Zero setup is required and it will work only over Wi-Fi at launch. Apple is currently working with the cell carriers to get it running on their network as well.

Just like the iPad, Apple has announces cases for the iPhone 4 at launch. They call them bumpers are are essentially rubber and molded plastic that goes around the outer edge of the device. They come in six colors and will be available soon.

iPhone 4 comes in white and black, 16GB for $199 and 32GB for $299. The iPhone 3GS now comes with 8GB of storage for $99. It will be in stores on June 24 with pre-orders starting June 15.