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FaceTime was touted as one of Apple’s big iOS features when they released the iPhone 4. There’s no doubt that it’s been hugely popular but we’re doubtful it’s as popular as Apple perhaps hoped it would be. Part of this may well be down to Apple preventing users from making / receiving FaceTime calls unless they were connected to a WiFi network. iOS 6 will change this and allow users to use the FaceTime service over their 3G or even 4G carrier service.

Good thing

This is excellent news from the point of view that it empowers users to be able to use their iPhone in a manner by which they choose to (a little more) than its previously locked down state. Rumours were historically abound that the reason for the lack of FaceTime calling over the carrier network was to appease carriers who have been known to charge through the nose for their own video services. I don’t buy into this, for two reasons: The first being that Apple tends to tell carriers how they need behave and what they have to accept if they want to carry the iPhone on their network, and secondly I prefer to think about it from a quality point of view, which leads to….

Bad thing

The world isn’t mobile network saturated. Even in 2012 many of the super developed parts of the world can have some shocking mobile signals, and in the poorest coverage areas, 3G/4G services just aren’t going to be a reality for some time. By (previously) setting the provision to only allow via WiFi connectivity, Apple could at least attempt to make sure that the chances of a quality call taking place every time was a reality (Internet Connection depending).  By allowing mobile carrier FaceTime calls, members of the less educated iOS ownership pool are potentially going to be dissatisfied blaming Apple for poor quality, or even inoperable, FaceTime sessions.

Not something new

This isn’t a new thing by any stretch of the imagination. The jailbreak community has catered for such a provision for quite some time with products like My3G. Perhaps Apple have been quietly observing the community once more and have finally decided that consumers are happy not to have what Apple will aspire to, i.e. a perfect every time FaceTime experience.

And the bandwidth

It’s a no brainer, but FaceTime over any carrier network is going to use up precious data allowance. Not everybody is on an all you can eat provision (love mine!) and as such some users are going to want to get an idea of what calling over the mobile networks will cost them in megabytes. Apple hasn’t been the one to detail such queries before and I doubt they will for FaceTime either. They’ll leave that the operators to include in their “What does xGb per month get you?” tables.

Your thoughts?

Are you pleased to see this move? Will you even make use of it?

Photo credit: jauhari (Flickr)

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