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iPhone 4 FaceTime doesn't need a mobile signal to work

post #1 of 71
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The new FaceTime video calling feature of iPhone 4 does not require mobile service after first use, enabling users to establish video chat from any WiFi hotspot, even while in Airplane Mode.

In reviewing FaceTime and mobile performance, AppleInsider originally reported that that making a FaceTime call requires an activated phone with service. However, that's only true for the first FaceTime session made from the phone.

Subsequent calls to FaceTime contacts, including users you've never contacted before, can be placed with mobile service turned off completely, such as when flying on a plane with WiFi service (where regulations prevent users from placing mobile phone calls.)

Readers have reported being able to connect via FaceTime from locations where they have no mobile service (including an airplane). Sure enough, we could successfully set up test calls between two iPhone 4 users across the country while both were in Airplane Mode with only WiFi turned on.

It is also possible to call, without any mobile service, a new contact you've never previously established a FaceTime chat with, although this must be done from Contacts (create a contact if necessary, then open it and hit the FaceTime button). The standard phone dialer keypad offers no option to call a number using FaceTime directly (yet).



How FaceTime works

Sources say the reason FaceTime needs initial phone service is because the first time it ever places a video call, it sends a message to Apple's gatekeeper server, which then registers the user's phone number as a FaceTime-capable number. After registering, the phone number likely "works more or less like an E.164 alias in a H.323 call," according a developer who works with video conferencing equipment.

It's likely that Apple uses a mechanism similar to Back To My Mac to re-register the network location of iPhone 4 users so that they can accept incoming calls from any hotspot without manually logging into a "Buddy List," a solution that would enable FaceTime to work without a mobile carrier. BTMM enables MobileMe users to set up a secure IPv6 tunnel back to their home network from any remote location, without needing to open up firewall ports or expose any information publicly.

Apple hasn't yet presented any developer documentation explaining how FaceTime does its magic, but it has announced plans to openly release the specification in a way that anyone can implement.

Existing video conferencing standards

H.323 is the ITU standard for videoconferencing over a LAN, ISDN (H.320), or other IP network. A very low bit rate relative of the standard (H.324) was adapted for mobile networks to result in the 3GPP's 3G-324M, a circuit switched video chat standard that works over 3G networks (and is built into most Nokia phones).

FaceTime is based upon the more modern H.264 video codec (3G-324M uses H.263 "DiVX-era") for more efficient delivery of better quality video. It is also packet switched (an IP network) rather than circuit switched (a phone system connection) 3G-324M, meaning it can operate over WiFi without paying for mobile bandwidth.

In the future, FaceTime will also be able to work over 3G and 4G mobile networks as well, Apple says. Using packet switching also makes FaceTime potentially compatible with non-phone devices (like iPod touch) as well as computers running Apple's iChat AV or compatible software.

Like iChat AV, FaceTime is based upon the IETF's SIP technology rather than ISDN-oriented ITU's H.323. Modern video conferencing equipment often now supports both H.323 and SIP, meaning that iPhone 4 FaceTime could likely be adapted to call into large scale, multipoint video conferencing systems hosting remote participants from around the world.
post #2 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Like iChat AV, FaceTime is based upon the IETF's SIP technology rather than ISDN-oriented ITU's H.323. Modern video conferencing equipment often now supports both H.323 and SIP, meaning that iPhone 4 FaceTime could likely be adapted to call into large scale, multipoint video conferencing systems hosting remote participants from around the world.

So long Adobe Connect (old Macromedia Breeze) and a bunch of other web conference technology companies, nice knowing ya.

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post #3 of 71
Not sure why apple didn't just name that iChat. It's pretty much same thing.

Facetime sounds like a spa treatment for your face. =)
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post #4 of 71
So WHEN is Apple going to release the FaceTime standard to the community to implement? What is the holdup? Why didn't 10.6.4 add support in iChat? Where is the iPhone 3GS support?
post #5 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

So WHEN is Apple going to release the FaceTime standard to the community to implement? What is the holdup? Why didn't 10.6.4 add support in iChat? Where is the iPhone 3GS support?

So impatient and demanding!
post #6 of 71
So does this mean that after the first connection, you don't have to have messaging enabled either?
I don't have or want messaging on my iPhone. (Don't get me started on the rip-off that is the messaging pricing from AT&T.)
But if I can enable it for one month of limited in order to activate FaceTime, I'll do that.

What's with the requirement for messaging in the first place?
post #7 of 71
Facetime with iPod touch? Don't need AT&T ? Save a lot of money?
post #8 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Not sure why apple didn't just name that iChat. It's pretty much same thing.

Facetime sounds like a spa treatment for your face. =)

some things start with "i", iMac, iPod, iChat,
some things start with "Mac", Mac Pro, MacBook,
some things end with "Time", QuickTime, FaceTime
post #9 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

... Where is the iPhone 3GS support?

This is just stupid. The 3Gs doesn't have the camera to support face-time. Why would anyone waste the amount of time and effort required when the handset doesn't even have the camera and therefore only a few desperate losers would ever even need or use it?
post #10 of 71
Right, I tried this when I first got the phone and it worked, so nothing new here. But, what I'd like to know, is next year, when the iPhone 5 is out, can I give my current iPhone 4 to my parents to use as a WiFi only device (no cell service) and FaceTime with them with my new phone? And, since the old phone won't have cell service anymore, but will hypothetically still be registered with Apple's FT service with the old number, same as the new phone, how will connecting FT calls work?
post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Not sure why apple didn't just name that iChat. It's pretty much same thing.

Facetime sounds like a spa treatment for your face. =)

My guess is that Apple will integrate iChat into iOS. So you will probably see iChat Call button next to that FaceTime button in your contacts. My other prediction is that Apple will integrate iChat with game center in iOS 4.
post #12 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Where is the iPhone 3GS support?

Youre joking right?
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post #13 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

So does this mean that after the first connection, you don't have to have messaging enabled either?
I don't have or want messaging on my iPhone. (Don't get me started on the rip-off that is the messaging pricing from AT&T.)
But if I can enable it for one month of limited in order to activate FaceTime, I'll do that.

What's with the requirement for messaging in the first place?

You've never needed messaging for FT.
post #14 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is just stupid. The 3Gs doesn't have the camera to support face-time. Why would anyone waste the amount of time and effort required when the handset doesn't even have the camera and therefore only a few desperate losers would ever even need or use it?

Do you think my relatives want to look at me? No, they want to look at my kids. If I had FaceTime, I'd use the rear-facing camera almost exclusively. I'm sure I'm not alone in this and I'm sure others can come up with more good uses for the rear-facing camera.
post #15 of 71
Well, it works exactly how I expected it to. Now we just need to find out if they've limited it to requiring a phone number or work, therefore disallowing it to work with iPod Touches and PCs, or if the management server will also allow for user accounts, like Back to My Mac, to be used for maintaining direct IP addresses.


Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Not sure why apple didn't just name that iChat. It's pretty much same thing.

FaceTime isn't just for Apple. It's for any and all who wish to utilize it.
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post #16 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Not sure why apple didn't just name that iChat. It's pretty much same thing.

Facetime sounds like a spa treatment for your face. =)

I think I rented a porno called Facetime.
post #17 of 71
Quote:
enabling users to establish video chat from any WiFi hotspot, even while in Airplane Mode.

Since when does Airplane Mode allow WiFi? Another bang-up reporting job by Daniel Eran Dilger!
post #18 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavers View Post

Since when does Airplane Mode allow WiFi? Another bang-up reporting job by Daniel Eran Dilger!

Well strictly speaking, when you turn on Airplane Mode, WiFi is disabled. However, you can go back and turn on just WiFi, which essentially is still "airplane mode".
post #19 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Do you think my relatives want to look at me? No, they want to look at my kids. If I had FaceTime, I'd use the rear-facing camera almost exclusively. I'm sure I'm not alone in this and I'm sure others can come up with more good uses for the rear-facing camera.

Well then you are using it wrong.

Its a video. calling. protocol.

If you want to show your kids to your relatives making a movie and sending it or a link to it would be far more effective.

My point was mainly that you are complaining (and I didn't even get into the other four or five complaints from your post), about a video calling protocol not supporting your device when your device is incapable of doing video conferencing. That makes it more of a "bitch" than a reasonable complaint.

I get that you want this, and that you may have good reasons for wanting it, but my answer was more along the lines of "why would Apple (or anyone) support that?" i.e. - from the point of view of the provider, it makes no sense at all to support the iPhone 3Gs when it doesn't have the necessary camera.

You might as well ask why a point and shoot video camera doesn't support the same protocol, or a Canon Powershot, or a Flip HD. The existence of a simple camera (especially when it's facing the wrong way), does not equate to "videoconferencing capable device."

This is the same kind of complaint as those that ask why Snow Leopard is not supported on G4's. The answer is pretty obvious.
post #20 of 71
Who are those two toolbags in the picture?
post #21 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavers View Post

Since when does Airplane Mode allow WiFi? Another bang-up reporting job by Daniel Eran Dilger!

Since the beginning of time...You simply turn Wifi back on. You may not know this, but many airplanes actually have Internet access. Welcome to 2010.
post #22 of 71
Gustav was't complaining about having it on a 3GS. And FaceTime works perfectly with the outward facing HD camera as well as the mirror facing VGA one as is well demonstrated in the Louis Armstrong Apple TV Ad.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Well then you are using it wrong.

Its a video. calling. protocol.

If you want to show your kids to your relatives making a movie and sending it or a link to it would be far more effective.

My point was mainly that you are complaining (and I didn't even get into the other four or five complaints from your post), about a video calling protocol not supporting your device when your device is incapable of doing video conferencing. That makes it more of a "bitch" than a reasonable complaint.

I get that you want this, and that you may have good reasons for wanting it, but my answer was more along the lines of "why would Apple (or anyone) support that?" i.e. - from the point of view of the provider, it makes no sense at all to support the iPhone 3Gs when it doesn't have the necessary camera.

You might as well ask why a point and shoot video camera doesn't support the same protocol, or a Canon Powershot, or a Flip HD. The existence of a simple camera (especially when it's facing the wrong way), does not equate to "videoconferencing capable device."

This is the same kind of complaint as those that ask why Snow Leopard is not supported on G4's. The answer is pretty obvious.

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post #23 of 71
Sounds great. Just need some of my mates to get the iP4 and we're away.

This sort of reminds me when you could share iTunes libraries over T'internet.

After much complaint from the music moguls Apple posted an update and it was gone rendering music sharing over local networks only.

Can anybody remember that and is this one of those situations where the Phone industry gets on Apple's case and 'pooof' it's gone with the next update?
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post #24 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Who are those two toolbags in the picture?

Tut Tut!!
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post #25 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavers View Post

Since when does Airplane Mode allow WiFi? Another bang-up reporting job by Daniel Eran Dilger!

Ummm... Now that planes offer WiFi people use their iPhones in airplane mode pretty regularly. I think that's been going on for over a year now. At least.

No need to harp on the reporting here.
post #26 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbellanca View Post

You've never needed messaging for FT.

According to the Apple senior support specialists (who I've been transferred to through 1-888-FACETIME), yes, FaceTime does use SMS to enable a chat. I'm not sure if that's just the first time, or every time—perhaps only the first time. I don't know why it is necessary and nor did the handful of people I've spoken with.

Unfortunately, due to problems associated with the database of numbers mentioned in this article, I know far more about FaceTime than I ever wanted to know. It is a pain in the ass to get FaceTime running if the wrong number is in that database.
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post #27 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbellanca View Post

You've never needed messaging for FT.

I know that seems illogical, but it does.
I got no FaceTime buttons on my phone until I enabled messaging. At that point the FaceTime button appeared. I've now removed messaging and I'm still FT enabled. It apparently uses messaging for the initial activation with the home servers. The question is if it's a one time deal or if it needs messaging from every new network you call from.
post #28 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Multimedia View Post

Gustav was't complaining about having it on a 3GS. And FaceTime works perfectly with the outward facing HD camera as well as the mirror facing VGA one as is well demonstrated in the Louis Armstrong Apple TV Ad.

I think you are the one that is confused my friend. Your sentence doesn't even make sense.

First, he actually *was* complaining about the 3Gs. Secondly, FaceTime is a video calling protocol and actually *doesn't* work well on a device that's not set up (cameras) to support it. Third, I don't know what you mean by "mirror facing," and finally, my point (again), was really only that it's completely unreasonable to expect Apple to support FaceTime on devices that don't have the right hardware.

I think this is unreasonable in a very practical sense regardless of whether it's Apple or another company, but knowing the history of Apple and how they like things to "just work" it's like a thousand percent *more* unreasonable.
post #29 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is just stupid. The 3Gs doesn't have the camera to support face-time. Why would anyone waste the amount of time and effort required when the handset doesn't even have the camera and therefore only a few desperate losers would ever even need or use it?

You know, my wife has an iPhone4, but I still have a 3GS.
I'd like to receive a call with her showing me some product she's buying or some weird thing my daughter did.
It'd be awesome if FaceTIme worked with non-front-camera-enabled devices like the 3GS to at least allow reception of video calls.
post #30 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by r00fus View Post

You know, my wife has an iPhone4, but I still have a 3GS.
I'd like to receive a call with her showing me some product she's buying or some weird thing my daughter did.
It'd be awesome if FaceTIme worked with non-front-camera-enabled devices like the 3GS to at least allow reception of video calls.

Exactly, but the Professor here is a stickler, only front facing or 'you're doing it wrong'! Sound familar, sound like anyone we know of. Hey Steve, is that you?
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post #31 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by r00fus View Post

You know, my wife has an iPhone4, but I still have a 3GS.
I'd like to receive a call with her showing me some product she's buying or some weird thing my daughter did.
It'd be awesome if FaceTIme worked with non-front-camera-enabled devices like the 3GS to at least allow reception of video calls.

Totally agree that it would be "awesome."

What all the folks insulting me are missing is that I never said it wouldn't be, just that it was a very unreasonable expectation, and that it will likely never happen.
post #32 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Totally agree that it would be "awesome."

What all the folks insulting me are missing is that I never said it wouldn't be, just that it was a very unreasonable expectation, and that it will likely never happen.

Actually it is supposed to be an open standard, capable of supporting many devices. How is this not possible or unreasonable?

Saying someone's request is "stupid" is an insulting thing to do, by the by.
post #33 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post

According to the Apple senior support specialists (who I've been transferred to through 1-888-FACETIME), yes, FaceTime does use SMS to enable a chat. I'm not sure if that's just the first time, or every time—perhaps only the first time. I don't know why it is necessary and nor did the handful of people I've spoken with.

Most likely he was referring to text chat not video chat. I know visual voicemail uses SMS protocol because when I switch to regular phone one time a started getting coded SMS messages starting with voicemail.

Quote:
Unfortunately, due to problems associated with the database of numbers mentioned in this article, I know far more about FaceTime than I ever wanted to know. It is a pain in the ass to get FaceTime running if the wrong number is in that database.

This is how they think it works. It could be that Apple associate FaceTime with IMSI and UDID and once you change your number or switch SIM cards the link will go away. This is probably why FaceTime needs to be started with a voice call.
post #34 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Totally agree that it would be "awesome."

What all the folks insulting me are missing is that I never said it wouldn't be, just that it was a very unreasonable expectation, and that it will likely never happen.

Hey Prof, you are probably right. It is very unlikely that Apple will support FaceTime on the iPhone 3GS or for that matter the iPad in any way, shape or form. Although, it would be wicked cool if some hack... ummm "enterprising developer" figured out a way to make that happen.

Imagine, millions of existing 3GS and iPad devices already in the marketplace would be able to participate in a FaceTime call consuming but maybe not producing video. And it would be a huge bonus if two 3GS phones could use the FaceTime protocol to make a regular VOIP phone calls. I love Skype, but so few of my friends have Skype accounts, its another account to manage, my friends never have the damn skype app running so you have email or text them first before you call. Yes, I am whining about tiny details, but making VOIP calls just a natural part of the cell phone experience is the direction we are headed in. Like Line2 just without the $15/month charge.

I know, I know, file this under things that will never happen, but it would be wicked cool.

iSanity
post #35 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Not sure why apple didn't just name that iChat. It's pretty much same thing.

Facetime sounds like a spa treatment for your face. =)

They didn't call it iChat because FaceTime is being sold as an open standard. Wouldn't make sense to use an existing, successful Apple trademark on a standard to be used in products created by everyone, including competitors.

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post #36 of 71
Nope, Fring has video features, so no excuses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLL View Post

Youre joking right?
post #37 of 71
Apple makes this big announcement, and the details are nowhere to be found, poor execution, IMHO. FaceTime is worthless if it is just iPhone 4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post

So impatient and demanding!
post #38 of 71
It sure does, just like the iPhone 4 does, it just has one instead of two -- no different. I have a lot of reasons to want to show video through an app like FaceTime live via the back camera.


Your intelligence level is that of a high school punk based on your ad hominem attack.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is just stupid. The 3Gs doesn't have the camera to support face-time. Why would anyone waste the amount of time and effort required when the handset doesn't even have the camera and therefore only a few desperate losers would ever even need or use it?
post #39 of 71
What we need is municipal wifi. That would allow easy, free, FaceTime/Skype calls without using minutes and let us bypass the carriers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The new FaceTime video calling feature of iPhone 4 does not require mobile service after first use, enabling users to establish video chat from any WiFi hotspot, even while in Airplane Mode.
post #40 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Apple makes this big announcement, and the details are nowhere to be found, poor execution, IMHO. FaceTime is worthless if it is just iPhone 4.

Apple plans to open up FaceTime in the future in an attempt to make it an open standard that anyone can implement, including non-iPhone 4s.

The reason they didn't reveal the details of how FaceTime works is because they don't want their customers worrying about it. All they know is they can press a button and see their friends and family - and that's all they care about. Frankly, that's all any user should care about.
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