Amidst Apple’s MacBook Pro announcement was FaceTime’s official debut. The App which allows Mac users to video chat with their friends on OS X and iOS hit version 1.0 on the Mac App Store.
A new feature of Apple’s newest MacBook Pros is the inclusion of a High Definition FaceTime video camera that supports 720p (1,280 x 720) video calls. While previous generation Macs will be able to receive a High Definition video feed, they will still deliver VGA (640 x 480) video quality. To take advantage of the new camera, Apple will be including the latest version of FaceTime and is releasing it at $0.99 on the Mac App Store today.
FaceTime was available for download as a Beta from Apple’s site and will be released under OS 10.7 Lion once it arrives this Summer. While the Beta was free, Apple must charge to the updated App. According to Macworld’s Dan Moren, Apple’s fee to download FaceTime is mandated by regulationsimilar to its 802.11n Software upgrade for Macs which activated the dormant wireless hardware.
Apple told me that the FaceTime $1 charge for existing Mac users is regulatory related (remember the $2 802.11n patch circa 2007?).
If you want to take advantage of FaceTime’s HD support and aren’t purchasing the newest MacBook Pros, you’ll have to purchase a separate camera.
Video calls require a built-in FaceTime camera, an iSight camera (built-in or external), a USB video class (UVC) camera, or a FireWire DV camcorder; and a 128-Kbps upstream and downstream Internet connection. Making HD video calls requires a built-in FaceTime HD camera and a 1-Mbps upstream and downstream Internet connection. Receiving HD video calls requires a supported Intel-based Mac (for a complete list, visit https://support.apple.com/bk/HT4534).