FaceTime

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This article is about the Apple product. For the social interaction, see Face time. For the IM security company formerly named FaceTime Communications, see Actiance.
FaceTime
FaceTime Yosemite.svg
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release
  • iOS: June 24, 2010; 5 years ago (2010-06-24)
  • Mac: February 24, 2011; 4 years ago (2011-02-24)
Stable release
  • iOS: 8.3
  • Mac: 3.0 (2211)
/
  • iOS: April 8, 2015; 2 months ago (2015-04-08)
  • Mac: February 25, 2014; 15 months ago (2014-02-25)
Operating system
Platform
Size Mac: 16.8 MB
Available in
  • English
  • Chinese
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
Type
License Commercial proprietary software
Website

FaceTime is a videotelephony product—and from September 2013, also means a set of related protocols for voice over IP (VoIP) developed by Apple Inc.. It is available on supported mobile devices that run run on iOS and Macintosh computers that run Mac OS X 10.6.6 onwards.

The video version of FaceTime supports any iOS device with a forward-facing camera and any Macintosh computer equipped with a FaceTime Camera, formerly known as an iSight Camera. FaceTime Audio is available on any iOS device that supports iOS 7 or newer, and any Macintosh with a forward-facing camera running Mac OS X 10.9.2 and later.

History[edit]

Then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced FaceTime on June 7, 2010, in conjunction with the iPhone 4, in a keynote speech at the 2010 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. Support for the fourth generation iPod Touch (the first model of iPod Touch equipped with cameras) was announced in conjunction with this device's release on September 8, 2010.

Apple bought the "FaceTime" name from FaceTime Communications, who changed their name to Actiance, Inc.[1]

FaceTime for Mac OS X was announced on October 20, 2010 at the "Back to the Mac" Media event on the Apple Campus.

On February 24, 2011, FaceTime left beta and was listed in the Mac App Store for $0.99 (£0.69). Apple claims that it intended to provide the application free of charge, however, a provision of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (2002) bars companies from providing an unadvertised new feature of an already-sold product without enduring "onerous accounting measures."[2] The free beta is still available for download from the Apple servers.[3] Facetime is included free in OS X from Mac OS X Lion (10.7) onwards.

On March 2, 2011, FaceTime support was announced for the newly introduced iPad 2, which gained forward- and rear-facing cameras.

AT&T allowed customers to use FaceTime as long as they were tiered, but blocked the application from working for customers with unlimited data plans. They were brought before the Federal Communications Commission for net neutrality violations.[4]

On May 2011, it was found that FaceTime would work seamelssly over 3G on all iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch models that supported it. Even though FaceTime worked only over 3G at that time, it now supports 4G LTE calls on networks all over the world, availability being limited to operators GSM plans.[5]

Implementation[edit]

The iPhone's screen when a call is in progress, showing the FaceTime button (middle of bottom row).

FaceTime works by connecting an iPhone 4 or later, a fourth generation iPod Touch or later, a second generation iPad or later, or a computer with OS X, to another supported device. FaceTime is currently incompatible with non-Apple devices or any other video calling services. Mac models introduced in 2011 introduced high-definition video FaceTime, which devices use automatically when both ends have a FaceTime HD camera.

Unlike Mac OS X's iChat, FaceTime does not support group conferencing. The application is a one-on-one video chat—only two people can talk at once. If a second user calls and the user answers, the video chat with the previous user ends and a new video session begins with the second caller. In iPhone, if a phone call is pending and the user attempts to answer, the video call ends and the phone call begins with the next user.

On the iPhone, a user can activate FaceTime during a phone call by pressing the FaceTime button, or initiated FaceTime from their call history or the Contacts application. iOS 7 and newer also provide a separate FaceTime app, as there always has been on Apple's non-telephony devices: iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac.

Until the release of iOS 6, FaceTime required a WiFi connection to work. From iOS 6 onwards, FaceTime for the iPhone and iPad has supported FaceTime calls over cellular networks (3G or LTE) provided the carrier enabled it, which by mid-2013 virtually all carriers worldwide have allowed. FaceTime uses about three megabytes of data per minute of conversation.[6] Cellular talk time/minutes are not used after switching from a voice call to a FaceTime call.

FaceTime calls can be placed from supported devices to any phone number or email address that is registered to the FaceTime service. A single email address can be registered to multiple devices and a call placed to that address rings all devices simultaneously.

On iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac, only persons who have already been added as contacts using the FaceTime or Contacts app can be called because there is no dialer.

Standards[edit]

The FaceTime protocol is based on numerous open industry standards[7] although it is not interoperable with other videotelephony systems:

Upon the launch of the iPhone 4, Jobs stated that Apple would immediately start working with standards bodies to make the FaceTime protocol an "open industry standard". While the protocols are open standards, Apple's FaceTime service requires a client-side certificate.[8] This measure protects against robocalling and telemarketing as access to the service is controlled by Apple. This measure is partly why FaceTime has currently not been implemented on non-Apple devices[citation needed].

FaceTime calls are protected by end-to-end encryption so that only the sender and receiver can access them. Apple cannot decrypt this data.[9]

Compared to most SIP implementations, Facetime adds techniques that enhance performance at the cost of breaking interoperability:[10] port multiplexing, SDP minimization and SDP compression.

FaceTime Audio[edit]

A new audio-only version of FaceTime, named FaceTime Audio, was announced during the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote speech on June 10, 2013, and released with iOS 7 on September 18, 2013. As an audio-only version of FaceTime, it effectively makes the protocol into a voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), that competes with other mainstream providers in the field, including Skype (Microsoft).

Based on the same AAC-LD audio protocol, the service provides high quality audio. The iOS 7 betas limited FaceTime Audio to calls placed on a Wi-Fi network (the same original limitation of the video version of FaceTime), but the final release has removed that restriction to allow it to work over 3G and LTE data connections, as is the case with most carriers and plans with regard to FaceTime with video. Like the video version, FaceTime Audio is currently only available between Apple devices. The feature is not available to run on the iPod Touch 4th generation as the device does not support iOS 7 or later. FaceTime streaming over cellular data is unavailable for the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2 as they only support 3G signals.[11]

Limited availability[edit]

As of October 2010, FaceTime is not enabled on devices bought in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,[12] possibly due to regulations in these countries that restrict IP-based communications. Devices bought outside these countries support both video and audio versions of FaceTime.[13] Although Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait originally disabled FaceTime on the iPhone 4, they later re-enabled the feature through a carrier update for existing phone owners and made it pre-enabled on any newly purchased iPhone.[14]

Security[edit]

On November 4, 2014, FaceTime scored 5 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's secure messaging scorecard. It lost points because users can't verify contacts' identities and because the code is not open to independent review.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Our name". Learn More. FaceTime Communications. Retrieved June 7, 2010. Apple has announced that it will use 'FaceTime' as the trademark for its new video calling application. Our agreement with Apple to transfer the FaceTime trademark to them comes as we are rebranding our company to better reflect our capabilities. This is an Apple app that should come with your apple product. We will be announcing a new name in the coming months. 
  2. ^ Macgasm. "Apple charges for FaceTime". Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Mac". Softpedia. link within last sentence "The page provides access to FaceTime 0.9 Build 92 version".  |chapter= ignored (help)
  4. ^ AT&T v. FaceTime. "AT&T/FaceTime Case Study" (PDF). 
  5. ^ zaone "iOS 5.1.1 ne demonstreaza ca Apple va permite efectuarea de apeluri FaceTime prin 3G", "iDevice.ro", May 2011
  6. ^ Zeman, Eric (August 2, 2010). "iPhone 4 Jailbreak Unlocks 3G FaceTime Calls". InformationWeek. Retrieved November 25, 2011. 
  7. ^ Daniel Eran Dilger (June 8, 2010). "Inside iPhone 4: FaceTime video calling". AppleInsider. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ Wright, Josh (July 9, 2010). "Special Look: Face Time". Packetstan. Retrieved March 6, 2011.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  9. ^ http://images.apple.com/ipad/business/docs/iOS_Security_Feb14.pdf
  10. ^ Kielhofner, Kristian (September 20, 2013). "Apple's new Facetime - a SIP Perspective". Not Just AstLinux Stuff. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  11. ^ http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4319
  12. ^ http://ufone.com/iPhone6/
  13. ^ Ray, Bill (October 19, 2010). "Apple wipes smile off FaceTime in the Middle East". The Register. Retrieved October 19, 2010. 
  14. ^ Bhagya, Kishore. "Facetime for PC". Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "Secure Messaging Scorecard. Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe?". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 2014-11-04. 

External links[edit]