or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Software › Mac OS X › Apple's still working on iChat video answering machine
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple's still working on iChat video answering machine

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Apple's implementation of a digital video answering machine, once destined for inclusion in an earlier version of Mac OS X, has been resurrected in a patent filing, suggesting the company may give the concept a second go in the near future.

Background

The feature would allow users of the Cupertino-based company's iChat messaging application to pre-record audio and video messages that would be provided to other users -- or "callers" -- when the recipient is away from their computer or tied up with other tasks.

This concept isn't entirely new, however. It first surfaced in pre-release builds of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard back in December of 2006 -- nearly a year before the operating system was released to the public with all traces of the feature removed.

In those pre-release builds, an "Answering" tab had been added to iChat's preference pane that allowed users to configure their digital answering machine. It provided an interface for recording video answering machine messages with built-in iSight cameras and instructing the chat application when to transmit the message to incoming callers.

For example, iChat could automatically respond to incoming callers with the pre-recorded video message when a user had their status set to "Away," or could choose to issue the video message manually when the status was set to "Available."



Video Answering Machine

In a 13-page patent filing published this week, Apple provided a detailed explanation of the technology with some new additions. In addition the aforementioned status preferences, the video message could be provided in response to a video chat request after a period of time had elapsed since receiving the video chat request, the company said.

Alternatively, the video message could be sent when no user input has been received for a period of time exceeding a threshold, meaning the recipient is likely away from their computer. Similarly, the message could be provided when the value of iChat's status indicator indicates a "do-not-disturb" status.



"Thus, the video chat system can be used as an always-on service without unnecessarily interrupting the user while the user is engaged in another chat session or another task," Apple explained. "The audio-video messaging services are provided using an answering machine-type application that is familiar to most users who have used conventional telephone answering machines."

Video Answering Machine Server

Taking the concept a bit further, Apple said video answering machine messages could be uploaded to a video chat server via the Internet. This would allow the video chat server to respond to any incoming chat requests with the video message even when the recipient isn't logged into their iChat account.



Callers could then respond to the pre-recorded video answering machine message with their own video message:

The responsive video message, in some implementations, can be stored in a video mailbox within the video chat server attached to the network connection. In this example, when the call recipient next connects to the network connection and activates the video chat component, some or all of the contents of the video mailbox can be downloaded or otherwise be made available to the computer for viewing by the call recipient.

Video answering machine messages could also be accessible by means other than or in addition to the video chat component, Apple added. For example, a call recipient could access video answering machine messages stored in a video mailbox within the video chat server through a web site or via a mobile phone application running on an iPhone.
post #2 of 42
That's cool- perhaps added to the Apple TV? No need to boot up your computer.
post #3 of 42
What about this being on the iPhone if a front facing camera gets added. It would add another meaning to visual voicemail.
post #4 of 42
Sounds like a MobileMe add-on is coming down the pike.
post #5 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

Sounds like a MobileMe add-on is coming down the pike.

I thought this immediately, but figured I'd leave the speculation to you guys.



Kasper
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
Reply
post #6 of 42
The mind boggles.
post #7 of 42
Cool, I'd like to use iChat more.
Anyone out there actually using iChat? Is it just in the states where people use AIM? I don't know anyone using AIM (I'm living in Norway). Around here people are using Messenger. I tried with Jabber and iChat but it just wasn't very solid, nor supporting file transfer.. I just ended up using Adium.
post #8 of 42
I agree that it sounds like MobileMe but I wonder about it long -term for the iPhone. When you look at MobileMe, it seems that apple is building a well-rounded alternative to Exchange and Google. I just wish they would open up the calendar so it could have some gcal features. An API for developers would also be nice.
post #9 of 42
Sounds interesting, but I'd rather they make the exisisting apps (and web apps) more robust first. iCal and invitations are a mess, especially on the web app side. If they want the online apps to be anywhere near desktop app quality, they have a lot of work to do.
post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Cool, I'd like to use iChat more.
Anyone out there actually using iChat? Is it just in the states where people use AIM? I don't know anyone using AIM (I'm living in Norway). Around here people are using Messenger. I tried with Jabber and iChat but it just wasn't very solid, nor supporting file transfer.. I just ended up using Adium.

I use iChat. I have a lot of friends who use Adium even in the States though. iChat is best for file transfers via aim and video/audio chat (not to mention address-book integration... a life-saver). Where Adium wins is in its plugins, and its smaller and less-obtrusive UI (not to mention they got tabbing right).
post #11 of 42
The first thing I thought of was iPhone OS X usage, though I don't foresee a front-facing camera for a couple of HW revisions.

How could this be used with MobileMe?


Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Cool, I'd like to use iChat more.
Anyone out there actually using iChat? Is it just in the states where people use AIM? I don't know anyone using AIM (I'm living in Norway). Around here people are using Messenger. I tried with Jabber and iChat but it just wasn't very solid, nor supporting file transfer.. I just ended up using Adium.

I use Adium because I need to tie into Y! Chat, MS' Messenger et al. not supported by iChat. Plus I really how I can make Adium completely out of the way. But I do some people, like my parents, who use iChat because they only use AIM.

Unfortunately, as you mentioned, AIM is only really popular in the US, while MSN is popular around most of the Western world and Yahoo popular with some Asian countries (can't find chart of stats at this time). I hate having to keep multiple accounts, but Adium has made easy work of it. Looking forward to Meebo for the iPhone, actually.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #12 of 42
Yup, in Asia, MSN and Yahoo is more popular, I bet some dont even know what is AIM... ,lets hope future version of iChat allows MSN
Apple is a hardware company, dont believe me? Read this Article!. For those who understand my message, help me spread this info to those who dont get it.
Reply
Apple is a hardware company, dont believe me? Read this Article!. For those who understand my message, help me spread this info to those who dont get it.
Reply
post #13 of 42
It's interesting that this is popping up now, with the heavy focus of new iPhone rumors on video. My speculation is the new iPhone will be the "iPhone Video". If Apple really wants to go "full-in" with this next rev of the iPhone, it could include video recording (maybe even 720p?) with basic video editing (even titles maybe?) on phone, a front facing video conferencing camera with direct integration into iChat. These video voicemail patents tie perfectly in with this and could fit nicely within "Visual Voicemail" on the phone. The new iPhone would be simultaneously released with a new version of iChat with all the hooks to support the video voicemail features and video chat with iPhone users... AND it will be simultaneously released for Windows.

It all makes sense to me...the updated 7.2mbps or higher data connection on the iPhone would be put to good use. The beefier processor and updated camera would be able to handle the video more efficiently... The rumors that ATT expects a tenfold increase in data traffic...

Apple are the only ones uniquely positioned to pull this off. Video conferencing has been on the brink for a while now, but never perfected in an easy and widespread solution. iChat would allow millions of people to video conference with the soon to be millions of new iPhone owners.

That's my story... it will happen one day... I just don't know if its this June.
post #14 of 42
I have iChat on all the time; still, I only have one friend, whom I rarely speak with, who does the same. All my other friends use Skype.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelhot View Post

Yup, in Asia, MSN and Yahoo is more popular, I bet some dont even know what is AIM... ,lets hope future version of iChat allows MSN

I would think that if Apple wants to expand heavily into non-US markets that it will need to adopt other, popular IM clients. On the other hand, they seem to be foregoing a native Apple-built chat app on the iPhone (which my be because they don't have plans to support Yahoo and MS Messengers) so I doubt that they will be pushing iChat on Macs with multiple IM clients in the future unless they come up with some game changing idea.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #16 of 42
Wouldn't it be easier to allow text IM's to be sent when a user is offline or away? Doing a video message and then waiting for it to send sounds like a hassle. That type of content would slow down a cellular network too if they allowed it on the iPhone.

Apple tried the "Answering Machine" concept in the 90's with the Quadra AV Macs. It was a flop. No one bothered with it.
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by utsava View Post

My speculation is the new iPhone will be the "iPhone Video". If Apple really wants to go "full-in" with this next rev of the iPhone, it could include video recording (maybe even 720p?)

Wow, now that would be stupid. I don't think people are going to wait for Gigabytes of data just to see a video message, especially since the iPhone will never have a 720 resolution display. Nor would the cellular network be able to handle it. If people think it is slow now, video will make it even slower.

Voice messages do just fine, like they always have.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I would think that if Apple wants to expand heavily into non-US markets that it will need to adopt other, popular IM clients. On the other hand, they seem to be foregoing a native Apple-built chat app on the iPhone (which my be because they don't have plans to support Yahoo and MS Messengers) so I doubt that they will be pushing iChat on Macs with multiple IM clients in the future unless they come up with some game changing idea.

Apple doesn't need to waste their time with multiple chat support. There are already third party apps to handle that, both on the Mac and the iPhone.
post #19 of 42
Expect a lawsuit for this one

That looks awesome though!
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Wow, now that would be stupid. I don't think people are going to wait for Gigabytes of data just to see a video message, especially since the iPhone will never have a 720 resolution display. Nor would the cellular network be able to handle it. If people think it is slow now, video will make it even slower.

Voice messages do just fine, like they always have.

I don't think we can expect 720 resolution display in the next iPhone, but eventually that will come. I do think that the next iPhone with a faster CPU and more RAM will be able to play 720p video natively which means you won't have to convert to SD versions anymore, if you choose not to. I think the next display upgrade will be a 2x pixel increase, or 50% increase in both width and length, making it 640x480.

As for the size of a video message, They would only be a few Megabytes for a 30 second message. Figure a standard YouTube bitrate. I also think that the cellular network will be able to handle it as everything gets upgraded over time.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

As for the size of a video message, They would only be a few Megabytes for a 30 second message. Figure a standard YouTube bitrate. I also think that the cellular network will be able to handle it as everything gets upgraded over time.

Too bad it can't handle it already like Verizon. I record and message videos all the time - no problem. And that's not even on a 3G network. Pathetic AT&T.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Too bad it can't handle it already like Verizon. I record and message videos all the time - no problem. And that's not even on a 3G network. Pathetic AT&T.

Don't be a TeckTurd! AT&T already handles plenty of video so they could easily handle the low grade Verizon video that you speak of.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Wow, now that would be stupid. I don't think people are going to wait for Gigabytes of data just to see a video message, especially since the iPhone will never have a 720 resolution display. Nor would the cellular network be able to handle it. If people think it is slow now, video will make it even slower.

Voice messages do just fine, like they always have.

I wasn't suggesting transferring 720p video of cellular. rear-facing camera records video (potentially 720p) and front facing records video conferencing at a typical low resolution/bit-rate. Only the forward facing video would be streaming over the cellular network....Besides the video now going upstream as well as downstream, how is this different from the already existing cellular streaming video apps such as youtube? Youtube was supported on edge. I would think a 7.2mbps connection could potentially handle 2-way low res video streaming.
post #24 of 42
I have been a reader for like 10 years! I never really checked, but I found out how to ignore other members! So great, that teckstud was getting on my darned nerves!

Anyway, back on topic.

I think the iPhone having any video recording capabilities would allow people to post videos to YouTube for "on-the-scene" scoops.
post #25 of 42
No doubt a lawsuit. Patent holders always come out of the woodworks when Apple make something cool.

Anyone know why skype is still more reliable (for connections). I also find quality poor for ichat, especially when sharing photos/videos.
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpellino View Post

Great. Video spam.
The mind boggles.

Well I hope we won't have to suffer a demonstration of all those "mail enhancement" pills that get pushed as spam... Ick!
post #27 of 42
Haven't I seen some Verizon commercial lately with a phone / answering machine that has some pretty neat features?

- Live traffic reports
- Weather
- video messaging

And it's ALL hooked up to your cell phone, so you can get traffic reports and such as they happen?

This sounds a lot like the Apple item, different, but still pretty cool.

- http://news.vzw.com/news/2009/01/pr2009-01-23a.html

Skip

PS YES I know it's a lot different, but it's still cool, and may have the ability to be up-graded with new features as they become available.
post #28 of 42
Edited: Opps, replied to wrong post/
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Cool, I'd like to use iChat more.
Anyone out there actually using iChat? Is it just in the states where people use AIM? I don't know anyone using AIM (I'm living in Norway). Around here people are using Messenger. I tried with Jabber and iChat but it just wasn't very solid, nor supporting file transfer.. I just ended up using Adium.

You can also use iChat with GoogleTalk accounts now as well. Just learned that myself today. I don't know about file transfer though...
post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by themoonisdown09 View Post

What about this being on the iPhone if a front facing camera gets added. It would add another meaning to visual voicemail.

I have always wondered why so few people bring this up. The front-facing camera essentially turns the iPhone into the greatest communication device since the Communicator on Star Trek. Especially if they could work out the eye-contact issue (which is sounds like they plan to do.)
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Cool, I'd like to use iChat more.
Anyone out there actually using iChat? Is it just in the states where people use AIM? I don't know anyone using AIM (I'm living in Norway). Around here people are using Messenger. I tried with Jabber and iChat but it just wasn't very solid, nor supporting file transfer.. I just ended up using Adium.

I use it to chat with family on the other side of the world but I think Apple should walk before they can run:-
  • The set-up for an non-technical person is still a bit onerous (jumping out to Safari to get an Apple_ID or not automatically activating after a MobileMe trial sign-up) with open at login as default
  • There seems to be no dynamic interaction with the address book (I have to add buddies manually)
  • The IM compatibility needs to be extended & integrated ( Jabber, Buddy & Bonjour lists need to be amalgamated - who cares about the protocol, just chat)
  • Being able to close all windows is fine but still allows newbies to get lost
  • Hello? Media browser? Where is it? iChat theatre is clumsy

iChat's amazing for other Mac users but I find myself with Skype & Adium running as well out of unfortunate necessity.

McD
Android proves (as Windows & VHS did before it) that if you want to control people, give us choices and the belief we're capable of making them. We're all 'living' the American dream.
Reply
Android proves (as Windows & VHS did before it) that if you want to control people, give us choices and the belief we're capable of making them. We're all 'living' the American dream.
Reply
post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDave View Post

I use it to chat with family on the other side of the world but I think Apple should walk before they can run:-
  • The set-up for an non-technical person is still a bit onerous (jumping out to Safari to get an Apple_ID or not automatically activating after a MobileMe trial sign-up) with open at login as default
  • There seems to be no dynamic interaction with the address book (I have to add buddies manually)
  • The IM compatibility needs to be extended & integrated ( Jabber, Buddy & Bonjour lists need to be amalgamated - who cares about the protocol, just chat)
  • Being able to close all windows is fine but still allows newbies to get lost
  • Hello? Media browser? Where is it? iChat theatre is clumsy

iChat's amazing for other Mac users but I find myself with Skype & Adium running as well out of unfortunate necessity.

McD

Hi McDave, have you tried Chax? Really nice little program that supplements iChat.

A lot of people have problems trying to get iChat to work with port problems. I recommend using Lighthouse (shareware) as it is great for port issues. If you have a cheap router with poorly implemented uPnP you might still have problems though.

Why can't Apple make iChat as easy to set up and use as Skype? When you do get iChat to work on both ends, the performance is very good. Maybe it will make a great comeback in the next iPhone. Here's hoping...
..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
Reply
..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
Reply
post #33 of 42
I really can't get excited by an answering machine that uses video. And the idea that recording on my home device (like an old tape-based answering machine) needs to be separately mentioned in a patent application to recording on a server (like a standard telco supplied voicemail) ... just doesn't make sense. The whole patent seems to be obvious.

That doesn't make the idea of video voicemail bad... just why bother with a patent?
(Then again, I am not a lawyer and the idea of McDonalds patenting a ham and cheese sandwich also seemed absurd).

Apple has sat around doing nothing with iChat (& the AppleTV) while the industry has steadily moved forward with VoIP technologies. Perhaps this will change - a kitchen communication device with a touch screen (like a big iPhone), a phone, video phone, email/web, recipe app, food ordering app etc.

ie: a new home communication device that does to home phones what the iPhone did for mobile phones.

Short of that, I don't care about iChat having a recorded message.
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolHandPete View Post

I have always wondered why so few people bring this up. The front-facing camera essentially turns the iPhone into the greatest communication device since the Communicator on Star Trek. Especially if they could work out the eye-contact issue (which is sounds like they plan to do.)

No, video chatting is lame and no-one uses it. It's standard on most 3G phones here in the UK, but most people try it once, decide it's fairly cool, then never use it again.

Amorya
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorya View Post

No, video chatting is lame and no-one uses it. It's standard on most 3G phones here in the UK, but most people try it once, decide it's fairly cool, then never use it again.

I'd agree that voice calls will always be preferred for quite a few if not most conversations.

But video chat is unpopular partially because of its poor user experience in its current form. Once done right, there are certain conversations where video would be popular. If your husband or wife is out of town for extended periods of time, video chat will most certainly be valued and used.
post #36 of 42
I understand why Apple patented this concept. But it is still disturbing that such a thing is necessary or even allowed. In my opinion, the concept is completely obvious. But apparently the patent office thinks differently, hence things like the patent on 1-click ordering.
post #37 of 42
Or instead of patenting Apple could just download and install SightSpeed (available for Windows & OSX) Which has had this feature for years.
If a contact you want to video chat to is offline you just record a message for them which they can watch next time they log on.
Apple just as original as ever.........,.
post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post

I'd agree that voice calls will always be preferred for quite a few if not most conversations.

But video chat is unpopular partially because of its poor user experience in its current form. Once done right, there are certain conversations where video would be popular. If your husband or wife is out of town for extended periods of time, video chat will most certainly be valued and used.

The thing is, it's not a particularly poor experience. We have about 70% of the UK covered by 3G. Lots of phones these days are 3G and support video calls. I can (or could, before I bought an iPhone) enter a phone number of a friend, have a reasonable chance of their phone supporting video calls, and if they do, you get about 15fps video from a front-mounted camera.

When 3G was launched in the UK, video calling was touted as the killer feature. In all the advertisements, they told consumers that 3G means video calls. It was designed to be the next big thing... but the trouble is, no-one wanted to do it. It's not how video calling is implemented that's the problem, rather that the activity itself is meeting a need that most folk don't have.

Amorya
post #39 of 42
15 fps would cause people to not watch TV too.

The difference between having not-bad video chat and TV-quality video chat is pretty significant. When the quality, convenience and price improve, people will end up using it occasionally or in specific niche scenarios in the very least.

Though I get what you're saying about video chat being over-hyped. My flying car was supposed to have video chat and I'm pissed that it doesn't.
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorya View Post

The thing is, it's not a particularly poor experience. We have about 70% of the UK covered by 3G. <snip>

When 3G was launched in the UK, video calling was touted as the killer feature. In all the advertisements, they told consumers that 3G means video calls. It was designed to be the next big thing... but the trouble is, no-one wanted to do it. It's not how video calling is implemented that's the problem, rather that the activity itself is meeting a need that most folk don't have.

I think Apple could certainly make a difference. At the moment video calling hasn't taken off for several reasons IMO
1) from a 3G phone, you can't be sure the other person has video or would want to answer using video
2) there's no landline/mobile integration of video calling
3) the quality isn't brilliant - small screen size and stutter vision (it's okay though).
4) it means learning something new for many people.
5) it's inconvenient, requiring handsfree operation and holding the phone to point the camera at yourself

A first step would be for someone to release something that entirely replaces a regular home phone and looks very similar - but with a video screen on it. Something where it's possible to still pick up the handset, dial the same way, perhaps with a picture of the person you're calling shown on screen with an option to switch to video if the other person has a compatible system. It must be simple to use, and be able to call anyone the regular way too. Market it to grandparents who want to see their grandchildren, and make it interoperable so while the grandparents use the new "Video Phone", their kids can just use iChat or Skype on a PC or whatever (or their 3G cell phones of course).

Apple could make something far better of course - the home video phone screen could be a touch screen with all the functionality of an iPhone. That way the contact address book is available instead of dialing a number, etc. Make it work handsfree so you don't have to pick up the handset to make the call. It's easy to see a couple of steps that could be made.

All of which has nothing to do with the patent I guess.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Mac OS X
AppleInsider › Forums › Software › Mac OS X › Apple's still working on iChat video answering machine