iPhone 3GS recognizes FaceTime URLs in iOS 4

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
FaceTime supports iOS URL schemes, enabling users to initiate a call by clicking on a hyperlink. iPhone 3GS users can see and click the links but they don't work, not even for audio-only calls. Yet.



Reader Felipe Baez discovered facetime:// URL scheme support while examining how FaceTime works. iOS began supporting URL schemes a couple years ago; the feature enables webpage links or apps to launch other apps on the phone.



Introducing URL schemes



Apple supports a variety of URL schemes for launching bundled iOS apps from a URL (or programmatically within an app). For example, tel://8008675309 prompts the user to dial that number. It also works with alpha characters, so tel://888facetime correctly translates the letters into the corresponding numbers to dial.



Additionally, mailto://[email protected] would launch Mail app with that addressee, and sms:// (followed by a mobile number or short code) launches Messages with a text addressed and ready to enter.



Apple also opened the URL scheme concept up to third party developers so they can register their own URL scheme. While http://facebook.com/ always launches the web app version of Facebook using Safari, links beginning with fb:/ will launch the Facebook app instead (as long as it's installed).







Linking to FaceTime



It's therefore not surprising that Apple's FaceTime has its own URL scheme that allows other apps (or hyperlinks on a web page) to initiate a video chat. What is interesting, but not surprising, is that the URL scheme isn't enabled on anything other than iPhone 4.



Oddly however, on other iPhone models running iOS 4, FaceTime URLs are recognized as a valid URL scheme. So rather than not being clickable or resulting in an error message that the URL is "invalid" (as an unrecognized URL scheme does), iPhone 3GS users who click on a facetime:// URL get a strangely blank screen (below).







This could be a simple mistake by Apple, or could be evidence that partial support for FaceTime calls was pulled late in the release. Earlier iPhones don't have the processing muscle to handle a video call, but they should be able to handle an audio-only call. Being able to place free, audio-only iChat conversations from any iPhone running iOS would certainly be an attractive feature to users, particularly international callers.



The lack of audio-only FaceTime on earlier phones running iOS 4 may be due to the fact that carriers wouldn't accept free WiFi phone calls (enabled by default on 60 million iPhones, and easy to use), while they would support video calling as an iPhone 4 feature, as the carriers either can't currently handle FaceTime calls (think AT&T) or have no real business around selling video calls anyway (everyone else). They do have a lucrative long distance voice business.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,269member
    Brings to mind the Grimm story: The Brave Little Tailor (who killed 7 in one blow). All these Android devices and all the king's men couldn't exceed the reach of just this one device. Go Apple. Go 'Pad.



    Oh, and where are all those posters who thought the name "iPad" was a total disaster? Every time someone saw one they would only think of feminine hygiene? What happened to that idea that some were so passionate and positive about? That it just showed how stupid Apple was? Oftentimes, Steve knows best.
  • Reply 2 of 32
    spuditspudit Posts: 49member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


    Brings to mind the Grimm story: The Brave Little Tailor (who killed 7 in one blow). All these Android devices and all the king's men couldn't exceed the reach of just this one device. Go Apple. Go 'Pad.



    Oh, and where are all those posters who thought the name "iPad" was a total disaster? Every time someone saw one they would only think of feminine hygiene? What happened to that idea that some were so passionate and positive about? That it just showed how stupid Apple was? Oftentimes, Steve knows best.



    Not sure where you are going with this comment...does it have anything to do with the article? Facetime looks cool, but until you have some serious market penetration, it's pretty useless. They should open up at least audio calls for 3G/3GS users...doesn't seem any different than using Skype, etc. Only then will Apple see widespread adoption.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    womble2k2womble2k2 Posts: 118member
    So the next minor revision might bring a new feature to 3GS users, Faceless Time
  • Reply 4 of 32
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    telcos will hit the ceiling.
  • Reply 5 of 32
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,269member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by spudit View Post


    Not sure where you are going with this comment...does it have anything to do with the article? Facetime looks cool, but until you have some serious market penetration, it's pretty useless. They should open up at least audio calls for 3G/3GS users...doesn't seem any different than using Skype, etc. Only then will Apple see widespread adoption.



    Nothing at all to do with it. Posted on the wrong thread.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,191member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post


    telcos will hit the ceiling.



    Time for that vaunted Apple-Google merger and simultaneous purchase of T-mobile and AT&T.



    That would make them.... "T-ATTpploogle".
  • Reply 7 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


    Nothing at all to do with it. Posted on the wrong thread.



    ROFL. Sorry mate I just knew you were going to say that. Done it myself. Bloody funny though
  • Reply 8 of 32
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Time for that vaunted Apple-Google merger and simultaneous purchase of T-mobile and AT&T.



    That would make them.... "T-ATTpploogle".



    love-in
  • Reply 9 of 32
    spuditspudit Posts: 49member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post


    telcos will hit the ceiling.



    This is going to happen sooner or later....ATT fired the first shot with caps on data usage- They just haven't figured out how to bill everyone for the "It's all data anway" plan. One of the carriers will eventually wise-up and bite the bullet on this. When that happens....flood gates open and minute plans are gone within a couple short years.
  • Reply 10 of 32
    porchlandporchland Posts: 478member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by spudit View Post


    Facetime looks cool, but until you have some serious market penetration, it's pretty useless. They should open up at least audio calls for 3G/3GS users...doesn't seem any different than using Skype, etc. Only then will Apple see widespread adoption.



    Apple sold 9 million iPhones last quarter, so they're going to get to a critical mass of FaceTime users extremely fast.



    Market penetration of iPhone 4 as a percentage of the total phone market is irrelevant. You're not going to use Facetime by dialing numbers at random; you're going to call the 2, 3, 8, however many people that you talk to the most, and you'll hear from them the minute they get an iPhone 4.



    To the extent that Apple calculated Facetime as a marketing tool to generate iPhone 4 interest through social connections, I think it will be a big hit.
  • Reply 11 of 32
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by spudit View Post


    ATT fired the first shot with caps on data usage



    So did all they. One more Steve's error: he called `unlimited' in his keynote.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    Quote:

    Being able to place free, audio-only iChat conversations from any iPhone running iOS would certainly be an attractive feature to users, particularly international callers.



    This exists already. It's called Skype.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    I don't expect that Apple wanted Facetime to enable voice-only calling. Without the front facing camera, you'd need a periscope in order to record yourself and see the screen to make sure you're in the frame.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by spudit View Post


    This is going to happen sooner or later....ATT fired the first shot with caps on data usage- They just haven't figured out how to bill everyone for the "It's all data anway" plan. One of the carriers will eventually wise-up and bite the bullet on this. When that happens....flood gates open and minute plans are gone within a couple short years.



    If that happens, I would expect that the price of data will go back up to compensate for the loss of talk minute income. The carriers are not going to drop the minutes requirement unless they absolutely have to. For one thing, ETFs have gone up in the last six months.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Porchland View Post


    Apple sold 9 million iPhones last quarter, so they're going to get to a critical mass of FaceTime users extremely fast.



    Market penetration of iPhone 4 as a percentage of the total phone market is irrelevant. You're not going to use Facetime by dialing numbers at random; you're going to call the 2, 3, 8, however many people that you talk to the most, and you'll hear from them the minute they get an iPhone 4.



    To the extent that Apple calculated Facetime as a marketing tool to generate iPhone 4 interest through social connections, I think it will be a big hit.



    We'll have to see. If anybody can make video calls socially workable, it would be Apple. But if it does, I personally expect that most people would only use it for immediate family and closest friends, and even with those people, not all the time. Maybe there's going to be a market for iPhone 4 tripods as I don't think it will be comfortable to hold the phone in a FT-compatible manner for very long.
  • Reply 14 of 32
    tantrumtantrum Posts: 41member
    I think the theory that Apple didn't want to set of a fight with carriers is absolutely spot on. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple was very cagey about discussing FaceTime with carriers before launch. It's telling that FaceTime will only work if there's a SIM card in the phone. Right now, a huge part of the profit model for Apple is the carrier subsidy. Even as they transform the mobile industry, they cannot afford to bite the hands that feed them. Not before they entrench tens of millions of iPhone 4 in customers hands around the world.



    Apple's biggest issue is the iPhone 4 supply chain. It's a crying shame that they don't have inventory to drive traffic to their highly profitable retail stores on a holiday weekend. Gadget sales normally spike soon after family get-togethers, Apple had better have some inventory by mid next week. The opportunity cost of profit lost per square foot of retail space is too high to ignore. The other knock-on problem is that with fewer handsets arriving in people's hands, and so many people paying attention to 'death grip' and other iPhone antenna news, their ability to manage the complaints of a vocal subset of complaining users is diminished since their voices can't really be diluted effectively by a multitude of satisfied users.
  • Reply 15 of 32
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple supports a variety of URL schemes for launching bundled iOS apps from a URL (or programmatically within an app). For example, tel://8008675309 prompts the user to dial that number. It also works with alpha characters, so tel://888facetime correctly translates the letters into the corresponding numbers to dial.



    Additionally, mailto://[email protected] would launch Mail app with that addressee, and sms:// (followed by a mobile number or short code) launches Messages with a text addressed and ready to enter.



    Apple also opened the URL scheme concept up to third party developers so they can register their own URL scheme. While http://facebook.com/ always launches the web app version of Facebook using Safari, links beginning with fb:/ will launch the Facebook app instead (as long as it's installed).



    I wonder if that trick can be used to bypass Parental Controls and Config. Profiles that block out certain features.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    If that happens, I would expect that the price of data will go back up to compensate for the loss of talk minute income. The carriers are not going to drop the minutes requirement unless they absolutely have to. For one thing, ETFs have gone up in the last six months.



    That's kind of what I was thinking, but since the minimum is already 450 minutes (for AT&T) and they offer rollover minutes and are now using capped data plans, I don't think they'd care so much. If a user wants to not use their minutes and potentially go over their data limits, why stop them?
  • Reply 16 of 32
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Free international voice calls are simple: both parties just agree to close their eyes. No peeking! It?s all about trust.
  • Reply 17 of 32
    bartfatbartfat Posts: 432member
    I actually fail to see a problem here. If 2 people want to talk for international calling, they can use VOIP like Skype, and then if their friend logs into Skype, they can call each other Skype-to-Skype for free. Sure, it's nicer if you didn't have to call that person to get him/her to log into Skype (assuming he/she wasn't before) and pay for that one minute, but it's close enough (cost-wise) that it's virtually irrelevant. And Skype can be over 3G too Best of both worlds to Apple, they let someone else take the blame and heat for dealing with telcos on voice calls, while their users reap the benefits.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    Wishful thinking.



    FaceTime was rushed and they didn't fix little things like this.
  • Reply 19 of 32
    voicetime://888FUATT
  • Reply 20 of 32
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    voicetime://888FUATT



    Took me a second.



    I think there is a * and # sign in there. voicetime://888F#*KATT
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