Video Conferencing on the iPhone – Are You Excited?

Gizmodo and many others have reported that the next incarnation of the iPhone could very well have a camera on the front of the device, allowing video conferencing.

This feature was rumored for the iPhone 3G, but many expect it was kept out of the device due to production costs.

This is one of those features that sounds interesting to me, but I can’t honestly imagine using it in a real-world situation.

YouTube videos look like crap over the 3G network. Sure, they’re better than the Edge pixel meshes that people sometimes called video from the original phone, but I wouldn’t call the 3G video streaming experience any thing other than “passable…for now”.

Over wi-fi that’s another story…but even at home, the quality of my video conference in iChat is completely dependent on other person’s Internet connection speed…and rarely does that video quality look anything like what you’ll see in an Apple Keynote.

I do a fair share of video conferencing – so I’m not just “not the type of guy to use this feature”. I just can’t see needing this to be on my phone. I don’t imagine having a video conference at a restaurant would be enjoyable…nor would it be a good idea to do it while driving.

So when would it be a good idea to do this? I don’t know…but I do know that some people are excited about it…and that’s great. I’m just not one of them.


Comments

  1. I am quite happy with a stationary camera for video conferencing, but a camera on a mobile could be very useful in industry for troubleshooting and repair work, or any visual work. I think it will be a big step forward when we can easily show coworkers what we are looking at. Conversation can only describe things to a small extent, but a video can save many hours of travel time just to see something firsthand

  2. The Wizard says:

    Being on a trip. On the go and able to talk to and see a person you care about to share the moment is really something to appreciate.

    We had video calls back in Egypt and it was awesome. I wonder why aren’t they popular here in the States!

  3. Perhaps the camera will be behind the screen taking advantage of an Apple patent.

  4. Depends..most likely this would be a feature ATT would charge extra for, in that case it’s a no go.

  5. I’d agree to Gary – I’m currently looking for an apartment some 2 hour flight time from home, and having to take pictures of everything I look at and send them back to my wife and then discuss with her later on is quite uncomfortable. Enabling her to look over my shoulder while running through whatever I’m looking at would be much more easy – although it could turn out to be just as much hassle :-)
    So, “conferencing” and “video calls” are not really the same – the later has a much broader use.

  6. Stan Scott says:

    The problem with talking about features like this is that no one ever seems to discuss them in terms of Cost/Benefit. Take 2G vs. 3G:

    Do I want my iPhone to have 3G speed? Yes, yes, oh yes

    OR

    Do I want to have 3G speed, but at the cost of a sharply reduced battery life (etc.)? Not so sure

    I’m not saying this feature is inherently good or bad, or that I would use it or not. But I’d like to know what the downside is.

  7. I remember back ‘in the day’ when web cams first came out and even over a cable connection at the time there was a delay, choppy audio, blinky resolution and dropped frames… but it was a video chat, man! Real sci-fi stuff and it didn’t matter. The same way it didn’t matter for those people who bought the first iPhone. At first it’ll be neat and cool and show-off worthy but before you know it the quality will improve seemingly overnight then families and friends will once again be connecting like they never have before…

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