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iPhone gets 3G video call features via Fring, poorly

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
A new update to the free Fring app brings the potential of 3G video calls to all iPhone users. It also enables video calls to desktop Skype users as well as other Nokia and Android smartphone users who are also using Fring. Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well yet.

Apple's new FaceTime video calling feature was widely criticized for initially only working over WiFi and on iPhone 4. However, Apple's new video calling feature works very well: it delivers a high quality, full screen picture, enables use of the phone's rear camera, and makes setting up a new call easy.

Enter Fring, a free download from the iTunes App Store, which has updated its existing multiple-protocol VoIP and IM features to now support two-way video calls from any iPhone model running iOS 4, ostensibly over either WiFi or mobile 3G. Fring (along with Qik) is the same third party app that powers video calls on the Android-based HTC EVO 4G, Sprint's flagship smartphone.

The Fring app (I tested version 3.2.0.5) supports video calls with accounts both on its own VoIP/video calling network and Skype. After you install the app, you can create a new account rather painlessly and immediately begin connecting to other users by their account name. The problem with Fring is that, while it promises to work virtually anywhere and with a far wider array of clients, its video quality and presentation are rather poor even with a WiFi connection.

Unlike FaceTime, Fring ignores the rear camera on iPhone 4, making it more difficult to show your caller a subject. Video calls can quickly get tedious and leave you feeling self conscious, so Fring's lack support for the "show and tell" camera on the back is a pretty severe feature omission. Because few other Android phones support a front facing camera, it's not obvious how likely it is for Fring to add support for dual camera operation in the future. But that's really the least of Fring's disappointing problems.



Low quality overall

Fring's video call quality is also greatly lacking, as it uses less sophisticated video compression. While I was fully able to quickly initiate FaceTime calls with a friend in Prague and maintain high quality video chats for an extended period of time, attempts to initiate a video call with the same person via Fring failed repeatedly under identical circumstances.

The momentary and fleeting video call connections under Fring were marred by blocky video and no audio at all. I was also unable to start an audio-only chat, although text chat did work.

Even if Fring could maintain a video call, its half-sized presentation of the remote caller is a lot less involving that FaceTime's full screen picture (with presents a floating inset showing you your own picture). Fring video and audio call tests we attempted over 3G failed completely.

The overall experience of Fring feels unfinished and a bit haphazard aesthetically, even outside of its iffy new video calling features. Hopefully, Fring's developer will be able to optimize the app to connect and function better, as allowing iPhone users to connect via video chat over 3G is a welcome feature even if the picture quality ultimately isn't very good.

Reports from users testing Fring on the EVO and other Android phones don't hold out lots of hope however. Even with a fast WiFi connection, PC Mag reported video quality as being "unimpressive," adding, "graphic artifacts showed up often and audio was usually out of sync," and repeating, "overall, video calls on Fring for Android are an unimpressive experience so far."

Calling desktop users

Fring seems to work best when placing calls between a desktop PC and a smartphone, something Apple currently doesn't support at all with FaceTime. The friend I called had performed some additional testing with desktop Skype clients, which reportedly worked better but still delivered poor video quality, even over WiFi.

I tried to test calls to a Skype client, but the Fring app oddly failed to present the icon for configuring a Skype account in its add-ons section. I deleted and reinstalled the app, when then refused to let me login using my existing password, and refused to let me create a new account. Overall, the entire Fring experience currently seems too buggy to be worth the bother of trying.

Until Fring gets a functional update, FaceTime users are limited to video chats only with other iPhone 4 users and only over WiFi. While Apple's technology is tightly limited, at least it works. Another option may come from Skype, which has expressed interest in supporting video calling on the new iPhone 4, but has not yet released any details on when that can be expected.

It's also rumored that Apple will add FaceTime and camera support to iPod touch 4 this Fall, and it's expected that the desktop iChat AV client for Macs will gain support for making calls with mobile FaceTime users. And of course, Apple has promised to publish the FaceTime specification as an open portfolio of protocols that any manufacturer can implement on their devices. Until then, high quality mobile video chats are limited to iPhone 4 users in the proximity of a WiFi hotspot.
post #2 of 42
But it looks like, as of yesterday, Fring has reduced support to Skype, on a temporary basis:

post #3 of 42
Dear appleinsider,
what took so long, eh? I knew this days ago.
post #4 of 42
I am stumped. The article says it supports any iOS4 iPhone, but then says "front facing camera only." This would limit it to the iPhone 4 only, wouldn't it? I don't understand or see the point of this, if you already have an iPhone 4, as FaceTime would work better. Can someone clear this up?
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post #5 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitewing98 View Post

I am stumped. The article says it supports any iOS4 iPhone, but then says "front facing camera only." This would limit it to the iPhone 4 only, wouldn't it? I don't understand or see the point of this, if you already have an iPhone 4, as FaceTime would work better. Can someone clear this up?

Fring can call other skype and fring users. FaceTime cannot.
post #6 of 42
What crap reporting. Fring video works on iOS 3.1.x and works on the back facing camera on 3GS...
post #7 of 42
Skype support disappeared from Fring the other day -- dunno why...
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Skype support disappeared from Fring the other day -- dunno why...

They are limiting Skype users right now due to the huge spike in their traffic. Their servers were struggling to keep up with the demand.

Hopefully they are upgrading their servers to compensate for their increased demand.
post #9 of 42
This is why Apple only supports FaceTime over Wi-Fi. 3G isn't fast enough to sustain a quality connection. True 4G, with pure packet switching and IPv6 addressing, will easily be able to, but only after it's fully tested and rolled out to enough areas that it becomes pervasive. And that won't happen until 2012. The final spec hasn't even been chosen yet.

And, as an aside, I think that's why Apple decided to suffer with AT&T for five years. Because that five year period ends in 2012. In theory, if they ride out their rocky partnership with AT&T, Apple wouldn't ever need to build a separate CDMA iPhone for Verizon or to add CDMA to their current iPhone for Verizon. All the cell providers, at least in the US, will be moving to a single 4G standard. And that will allow Apple to build just one single 4G iPhone. Especially since the 4G standard will be an international one, and Apple can ship that single iPhone model worldwide.

And, even further aside, AT&T must be thinking "If we can just rope-a-dope all the hate for two more years, we won't need to spend any money building out our old 3G network." If you look at it from that perspective, all the foot dragging and data plan bait-and-switching makes sense.

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post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

This is why Apple only supports FaceTime over Wi-Fi. 3G isn't fast enough to sustain a quality connection.

Fring is lower quality than facetime on wifi or 3g

the advantage was that you could access other systems, like skype to a Mac

but then they removed that access because their servers were being crushed, even with awful compression


Most likely this is why skype is taking so long to get their ios4 app out, they may be adding video calling. Which makes the front camera useful.
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post #11 of 42
I still think Apple is going to release a new version of the iPad - with a front-facing camera for FaceTime - this fall in time for Christmas. Otherwise, you cannot explain Steve Jobs claim of "10's of millions of FaceTime devices by 2011" during the recent keynote. Apple won't sell 10's of millions iPhones and a yet unreleased iPod before the end of this year.

My 3 cents (I feel generous today).
post #12 of 42
Demand from what?

After putting up with weeks of whining, I thought that iPhone 4's were incapable of using data at such a rate, with their "faulty design" and everything.

/sarcasm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post

They are limiting Skype users right now due to the huge spike in their traffic. Their servers were struggling to keep up with the demand.

Hopefully they are upgrading their servers to compensate for their increased demand.
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post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

This is why Apple only supports FaceTime over Wi-Fi. 3G isn't fast enough to sustain a quality connection. True 4G, with pure packet switching and IPv6 addressing, will easily be able to, but only after it's fully tested and rolled out to enough areas that it becomes pervasive. And that won't happen until 2012. The final spec hasn't even been chosen yet.

And, as an aside, I think that's why Apple decided to suffer with AT&T for five years. Because that five year period ends in 2012. In theory, if they ride out their rocky partnership with AT&T, Apple wouldn't ever need to build a separate CDMA iPhone for Verizon or to add CDMA to their current iPhone for Verizon. All the cell providers, at least in the US, will be moving to a single 4G standard. And that will allow Apple to build just one single 4G iPhone. Especially since the 4G standard will be an international one, and Apple can ship that single iPhone model worldwide.

And, even further aside, AT&T must be thinking "If we can just rope-a-dope all the hate for two more years, we won't need to spend any money building out our old 3G network." If you look at it from that perspective, all the foot dragging and data plan bait-and-switching makes sense.

Stop making sense .....

We're being taken for a ride again.
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post #14 of 42
This is apple vs non apple approach. Apple does not make features available that would suck when used. Facetime works only on WiFi cause cell phone networks don't support it. You want to have a crapy video conversation that pauses, gets dropped or buffers all the time - use fring, but the whole point of a video chat is to see someone, not see a blob of pixels.

Anyway I am happy that fring is letting us play with video calling over 3G, but by the time 4G is deployed and widely operational in major areas facetime will work over it as well.
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post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

Will be crappy until the real 4G network is rolled out.

I'm not sure about '4G' needing to be rolled out. I think a more consistent '3G' network with 14.4Mb/s HSDPA and 5.8Mb/s HSUPA should be able to handle it just fine IF they allow all the protocols (Jobs said they don't) for "realtime" A/V and IF they increase their trunk and tower capacity enough to support most users in most situations.

They might take a few years, especially if we're talking about AT&T.

Remember, 3GSM/UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/HSPA/non-enhanced LTE all has an amazing ceiling we haven't come close to touching.
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post #16 of 42
I'm surprised that apple didn't have video call over 3G in the first place. I've been using video call over 3G in Australia for 4+ years.
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post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Fring can call other skype and fring users. FaceTime cannot.

The article clearly says, "A new update to the free Fring app brings the potential of 3G video calls to all iPhone users." This isn't true if it limits to a front-facing camera. I am just saying that the facts (as reported) are confusing.
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post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitro View Post

I'm surprised that apple didn't have video call over 3G in the first place. I've been using video call over 3G in Australia for 4+ years.

Um, well Apple might in Australia, might. They did say it would be working with carrier on allowing it.

I test my ADSL vs 3G on iPhone and they alternate in beating each other. So the bandwidth is there, depending on users it might be able to handle FaceTime
. (I'm in Australia, in Central Australia.)

And if you have been using 3G video calling for 4 Years then you know how crap it is. It is as bad as Fring/Skype offer. Blocky choppy video and out of sync audio with pauses and drop outs.

Mostly that is due to the protocol used not the network (in Australia).

We have tethering here but only vodaphone offers visual voicemail, Telstra pretend it doesn't exist if u ask them.

So who knows?
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post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

I still think Apple is going to release a new version of the iPad - with a front-facing camera for FaceTime - this fall in time for Christmas.

My guess is sooner: October, in time for iOS 4 on the iPad, with f.f. camera and 512 MB memory, too.
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitro View Post

I'm surprised that apple didn't have video call over 3G in the first place. I've been using video call over 3G in Australia for 4+ years.

— What is the extent of it? Id est, does it work across all carriers, to PCs, is it an open standard or is it 3GPP's implementation?

— How well does it work? Id est, is the convenience in setting up and connecting A/V chat, as well as te quality of the call with audio bitrate and compression, and video bitrate and compression, and latency affect the usablity of it even though it's technically possible to do?

Even though I see it as a novelty feature I also see it as the beat potential to being video chat to all cellphones, regardless of the network type and handset vendor, and then potentially connect them to every other Internet capable device in the world.
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post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

What is the extent of it? Id est, does it work across all carriers, to PCs, is it an open standard or is it 3GPP's implementation?

How well does it work? Id est, is the convenience in setting up and connecting A/V chat, as well as te quality of the call with audio bitrate and compression, and video bitrate and compression, and latency affect the usablity of it even though it's technically possible to do?

Even though I see it as a novelty feature I also see it as the beat potential to being video chat to all cellphones, regardless of the network type and handset vendor, and then potentially connect them to every other Internet capable device in the world.

The point I'm making without "technical hullabaloo" is that Fring provides the average John Doe the capability to have a "video chat" over a network. One needs to understand that the mass shift to apple iPhone by folks is because Microsoft / Nokia /RIM / ect couldn't deliver easy smartphone features for average person social media to be precise.

Let keep things in perspective from the average user end.
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post #22 of 42
So may I ask a question- if apple integrates face time to iChat, and releases a pc version of iChat ( or is there one?), have they essentially wiped out fringe and skype et el?

I have the suspicion they understand this but may not be able to implement due to no compete items in contract with AT&T. Just an opinion
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post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

I still think Apple is going to release a new version of the iPad - with a front-facing camera for FaceTime - this fall in time for Christmas. Otherwise, you cannot explain Steve Jobs claim of "10's of millions of FaceTime devices by 2011" during the recent keynote. Apple won't sell 10's of millions iPhones and a yet unreleased iPod before the end of this year.

My 3 cents (I feel generous today).

If Apple included facetime support for Macs (probably through iChat) then that would also take it to tens of millions of devices.
post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by drdb View Post

If Apple included facetime support for Macs (probably through iChat) then that would also take it to tens of millions of devices.

iPhone,
iPod Touch,
iPad,
and all the macs with iSight.

that would definatley be 'tens of millions of devices'
post #25 of 42
All the demos I've seen of FaceTime stuttered and froze up - even Steve's stage demo did. The advantage with 3G calling is that it's far more likely you will get someone online to be able to speak to them. Webcams have been low quality for ages so I don't think the smaller size matters. I would likely use Fring more than FaceTime in real-world situations.

Like if my girlfriend is in a store asking for an opinion about an item, she can hold the camera up to the item and show me it - even if she has to turn the camera round. No way she's going to have wifi in any random store.

Skype is already available on the iPhone over wifi and if wifi was ubiquitous enough to be useful for this task, more people would be using Skype for calling as well as video chat.
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitro View Post

The point I'm making without "technical hullabaloo" is that Fring provides the average John Doe the capability to have a "video chat" over a network. One needs to understand that the mass shift to apple iPhone by folks is because Microsoft / Nokia /RIM / ect couldn't deliver easy smartphone features for average person social media to be precise.

Let keep things in perspective from the average user end.

The average user isn't using 3G video calls, it's too woeful. In it's current state it's but a novelty that gets tiring after a few uses. It is the one thing I have not missed in Australia after moving to iPhone.
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post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

This is why Apple only supports FaceTime over Wi-Fi. 3G isn't fast enough to sustain a quality connection. .

facetime does work pretty well over 3g, it's just the networks can't handle it. Considering only a 'geek' % of people installed fring for iphone 4 and it killed their servers.. if everyone with an iphone 4 decided to facetime over the network it would completely destroy it .

http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/25/i...we-had-to-try/
post #28 of 42
Same situation in New Zealand as in Australia. We've had 3G video calling on our cell phones for god knows how long. 5-6 years? And we think we're backwards

Also happy that the iPhone is sold completely unlocked in NZ, also can do tethering with no probs.
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post #29 of 42
Hey folks ...

I think most are missing the point. Until last week, FRING was available for the iPhone but did NOT use the front facing camera. It was a multi platform piece of software that allowed access to various IM services along with SKYPE and other desktop solutions. More importantly, on platforms like Android, it allowed the use of front facing cameras for video chat (on phones like the EVO).

There were other programs that did this, like QUIK, but only FRING was multi platform.

The concern was that Apple would never let them put a feature in it that allowed the front facing camera to work because it would "duplicate" Facetime. Much to EVERYONE's surprise, including FRING, Apple allowed the app into the store this week. Those that already had it on their phones were pushed the update.

I have an EVO and most of my friends have the new iPhone. FRING allows a near perfect connection between the two allowing full video calls between Android and the iOS. Facetime, as of right now, will NOT allow this. In addition, FRING allows both Android and iOS users to communicate via video calls with ANY version of the desktop Skype application. This also works fairly well. Again, something that SKYPE for the iOS does NOT allow.

FRING was not prepared for the amount of business and traffic this would create and consequently dropped the ability for FRING to do video with Skype.

Essentially, FRING allows full cross platform communication for video calls.

Hopefully they can get the servers up to speed to handle the load. For the 24 hours it was working, it was very very cool.

CharlesJR
post #30 of 42
Doesn't it already have Facetime?
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Doesn't it already have Facetime?

Facepalm!
post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

I still think Apple is going to release a new version of the iPad - with a front-facing camera for FaceTime - this fall in time for Christmas. Otherwise, you cannot explain Steve Jobs claim of "10's of millions of FaceTime devices by 2011" during the recent keynote. Apple won't sell 10's of millions iPhones and a yet unreleased iPod before the end of this year...

I've heard this from a lot of people but it makes no sense to me.

Apple has *never* done this (a major update of a product on cycles shorter than a year). It also has a huge downside in that you've just sold millions of folks on the hottest new device, made them all pay 500-600 dollars for it and then made it obsolete six months later. Its rude, it's far from expected, and will likely generate more bad feeling and bad press than the new product will garner attention.

The iPad will be updated the same as almost every other Apple product. Approximately one year from the release of the first model. Besides which, I don't think there is enough flash memory and LCD screens in the world to release two major revisions in one year.
post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by CRRiser View Post

Hey folks ...

I think most are missing the point. Until last week, FRING was available for the iPhone but did NOT use the front facing camera. It was a multi platform piece of software that allowed access to various IM services along with SKYPE and other desktop solutions. More importantly, on platforms like Android, it allowed the use of front facing cameras for video chat (on phones like the EVO).

There were other programs that did this, like QUIK, but only FRING was multi platform.

The concern was that Apple would never let them put a feature in it that allowed the front facing camera to work because it would "duplicate" Facetime. Much to EVERYONE's surprise, including FRING, Apple allowed the app into the store this week. Those that already had it on their phones were pushed the update.

I have an EVO and most of my friends have the new iPhone. FRING allows a near perfect connection between the two allowing full video calls between Android and the iOS. Facetime, as of right now, will NOT allow this. In addition, FRING allows both Android and iOS users to communicate via video calls with ANY version of the desktop Skype application. This also works fairly well. Again, something that SKYPE for the iOS does NOT allow.

FRING was not prepared for the amount of business and traffic this would create and consequently dropped the ability for FRING to do video with Skype.

Essentially, FRING allows full cross platform communication for video calls.

Hopefully they can get the servers up to speed to handle the load. For the 24 hours it was working, it was very very cool.

CharlesJR

I agree, but with one caveat.

If Apple adds FaceTime support for OS-X, that alone could force FRING to rewrite their app and add support for the Facetime protocol as well. Facetime is also (potentially) a full cross platform communication tool. At this point it will be about adoption of standards and personally, I think Apple might have the winning strategy in the end by means of their installed computer base.

I don't even like video calls and I don't currently use iChat, but if I could fire up iChat and talk to anyone I know who has an iPhone 4, that would all of a sudden become my preferred communication method. It could easily catch on like wildfire at least in the Mac community, (which is currently about 23% of the consumer market).
post #34 of 42
Nice that they put NO EXPLANATION in the app itself -- Fring has bad customer support that way...


Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post

They are limiting Skype users right now due to the huge spike in their traffic. Their servers were struggling to keep up with the demand.

Hopefully they are upgrading their servers to compensate for their increased demand.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I agree, but with one caveat.

If Apple adds FaceTime support for OS-X, that alone could force FRING to rewrite their app and add support for the Facetime protocol as well. Facetime is also (potentially) a full cross platform communication tool. At this point it will be about adoption of standards and personally, I think Apple might have the winning strategy in the end by means of their installed computer base.

I don't even like video calls and I don't currently use iChat, but if I could fire up iChat and talk to anyone I know who has an iPhone 4, that would all of a sudden become my preferred communication method. It could easily catch on like wildfire at least in the Mac community, (which is currently about 23% of the consumer market).

I just hope Apple goes for it - Adds FaceTime to iChat on OSX - works out integration with Cisco and Skype .... then just to set the cat among the pigeons goes after the Flip with an iPod touch that supports FaceTime and Video recording with iMovie
post #36 of 42
SUCK IT UP! Early adopters ALWAYS GET SCREWED!

Apple STILL has not release a Safari/Security update for original iPhones and iPods on iOS 3.x!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I've heard this from a lot of people but it makes no sense to me.

Apple has *never* done this (a major update of a product on cycles shorter than a year). It also has a huge downside in that you've just sold millions of folks on the hottest new device, made them all pay 500-600 dollars for it and then made it obsolete six months later. Its rude, it's far from expected, and will likely generate more bad feeling and bad press than the new product will garner attention.

The iPad will be updated the same as almost every other Apple product. Approximately one year from the release of the first model. Besides which, I don't think there is enough flash memory and LCD screens in the world to release two major revisions in one year.
post #37 of 42
\
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic8Ball View Post

I just hope Apple goes for it - Adds FaceTime to iChat on OSX - works out integration with Cisco and Skype .... then just to set the cat among the pigeons goes after the Flip with an iPod touch that supports FaceTime and Video recording with iMovie

Apple has already worked out 3rd-party "integration" on its end by opening up FaceTime and making all the protocols standard. It's now up to everyone else to adopt it.

They've never done a major update to iChat outside a major Mac OS X update. Maybe they'll change that and make iChat for Windows, but I doubt it, on both accounts.

Skype will probably be last to adopt it because it could hurt their model. I've heard that Cisco will be supporting FaceTime which should make routers more "aware" of this time sensitive data, and that the next Flips will come with WiFi for fast uploading. Perhaps that also means a front facing camera and FaceTime).
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post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

\

Apple has already worked out 3rd-party "integration" on its end by opening up FaceTime and making all the protocols standard. It's now up to everyone else to adopt it.

They've never done a major update to iChat outside a major Mac OS X update. Maybe they'll change that and make iChat for Windows, but I doubt it, on both accounts.

Skype will probably be last to adopt it because it could hurt their model. I've heard that Cisco will be supporting FaceTime which should make routers more "aware" of this time sensitive data, and that the next Flips will come with WiFi for fast uploading. Perhaps that also means a front facing camera and FaceTime).

Good points. I would like to see iChat for OS X updated. and Facetime on the iPod Touches.

A fully stacked iPod Touch could seriously compete with the Cisco Flip.

One another point Apple on windows - I wonder if Apple should have an X-Code plugin for Eclipse or write an X-Code for windows to get more developers for iOS ?

I'm not too bothered about iChat for windows provided other windows IM's support iChat (aol does) and FaceTime.
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

This is apple vs non apple approach. Apple does not make features available that would suck when used.

The notification system would like a word with you.
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaim2 View Post

The notification system would like a word with you.

Apple have hired back the designer that created the WebOS notification system from Palm

Maybe next a new notification system and a widget system
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