FaceTime will be successful because you don’t need an account

One-tap simple.

FaceTime works right out of the box — no need to set up a special account or screen name. And using FaceTime is as easy as it gets. Let’s say you want to start a video call with your best friend. Just find her entry in your Contacts and tap the FaceTime button. Or maybe you’re already on a voice call with her and you want to switch to video. Just tap the FaceTime button on the Phone screen. Either way, an invitation pops up on her iPhone 4 screen asking if she wants to join you. When she accepts, the video call begins. It’s all perfectly seamless. And it works in both portrait and landscape modes.

This is going to change everything. I can’t wait to be able to do video calls with my parents, with Kate, with friends all over the world. iChat failed here because it was software. FaceTime will work because it doesn’t change the device you use or your existing behavior.

But lets deconstruct the software side of this for a second. Any phone can add a front facing camera, and any phone can add a Skype like application that does video phone calls. But how did Apple make it work out of the box, without accounts?

FaceTime currently works over WiFi only, yet it must use the AT&T network to initiate the connection. How else can my phone find and connect to my mom’s phone 500 miles away, using nothing but her phone number?

Leave it to Apple to go the extra mile. Any other company would have made you sign up for something new. But Apple focused on making the software great, and even had to do some custom integration with AT&T. That’s what will make it a break out feature, not just something for geeks. My mom and I will do a video call the first day we both have new phones.

At Posterous, we’ve always believed in avoiding account creation as much as possible. You can post without an account, and you can subscribe without an account. Accounts get in the way. Apple feels the same.

So how does FaceTime work? I guess we’ll learn more tomorrow, but it seems something like:

  1. Initiating iPhone contacts receiving iPhone using standard telephone protocol (using AT&T).
  2. iPhones communicate to determine if both support FaceTime and both are on WiFi.
  3. iPhones then create a direct peer to peer connection over the internet. The iPhones deal with all IP addresses, firewalls, NAT issues automatically.
  4. Participants can now do a video call over WiFi without use of the cellular network.

But users don’t know this is happening. It just works. And that’s what makes this technology truly amazing.

Kudos to Apple for making FaceTime an open standard. Skype, you suck. Hopefully we’ll see FaceTime added to other devices and networks and it becomes the standard for video chat.

71 comments

  1. <html><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><div>omg!</div><div><br></div><div>video chat has been easily acheivable by pretty much most of Europe, modern Asia/Oceana, modern middle eastern nations (ie. most of the world!!!) for about 8 years now! On mobile devices of different brands and to different networks and even overseas!</div><div><br></div><div>It is only North America that is going to benefit from this with your old shitty phone networks and your slowwww uptake on 3G etc.&nbsp;<br><br>Sent from my iPhone on TPG (Optus)</div><div><br></div></body></html>

  2. From what I understand, both video and audio will be transferred via VoiP, and during a facetime call, no charge will be made to voice calls, or the use of free network minutes. I will be free all over the world, provided both parties are connected to a WiFi network.

  3. Hello,I just wanted to know if FaceTime for iPhone 4 is free or still charges you your call minutes. I am planning to purchase a iPhone 4 soon. Samaan

  4. Hello,I just wanted to know if FaceTime for iPhone 4 is free or still charges you your call minutes. I am planning to purchase a iPhone 4 soon. Samaan

  5. Sammiee, as FaceTime will currently only operate over WiFi you will not be charged call minutes. Unless you are using one of those MiFi type devices.

  6. Facetime will works even youre on airplane mode,so its a PUSH technology,even youre on an airplane you can facetime your loveones on the other side of the world without blocking the VOIP calls by a firewall from a plane,facetime will break this barrier,its an always on feature of video chat wherever you are,i tried it my self,of course you can stiil download skype for iphone and other video calling over 3g apps but still its only works on the cellular networks,facetime works straight out from the box!no set up!no account,your sim is your account,once it has inserted,,your device ID and sim together will become your Contact ID and they can facetime you even you both on airplane mode(Phone Off)

  7. P.S.As many as says it has only works on wifi,its true,but the real advantage is you can video chat everywhere on mobility,on the go,on the plane,on the other side of the world,yes i know for now only iphone4 having facetime,but its an open standard and soon more mobile devices will support this features.

  8. Ah, another apple marketing blog rebranded. Video calling will fail in USA as it did everywhere else, because we’re all a bit ugly really and don’t like to be seen at our worst.RIP Facetime

  9. Guys, can any one tell me, hoe this face time works? is this service for free? if it is and it does not use any provider network then shouldnt it be working for any network worldwide?i am using iphone 4, i can understand that apple using my tele network to search other person i am calling to but what about when someone calling from ipod?call me dum but i really didnt get it.

  10. Just like in GameCenter for iOS 4, your FaceTime user/password is based off of your Apple ID.No matter the device (even non-Apple), you will have to have or create an Apple ID. And yes, it’s free.

  11. actually, facetime is now on macs. and chances are its coming to windows. i just chatted my dad from my computer to his phone. works great

  12. I cannot make a call and I have an ipod Touch 4th generation why is this? I have made an account and it was successful- my friend also has the 4th gen of ipod touch and set up an account however we cannot make a call?! it is not easy to try connect! I have wi-fi as we tried it in the same house yet it never worked. I have conacted apple and they will not respond! I was wondering if you can suggest any solutions as to either how to start the call and make it successfully! Also apologises if this sounds stupid but is it free and to you "phone" them using an email address? thanks Michelle

  13. Yes Michelle we are having the same problems too… We tested facetime with a website called http://www.facelette.co.uk with the itouch 4G and every few iphone numbers we could not facetime connect with.. When we was at facelette there was hundreds of facetime IDs rather than iPhone Numbers..? very very common with the itouch community..

  14. to make a call with the ipod touch (via skype or facetime (videocall) or any other account or service I tried) you need to have an apple account first.So no just go and do this and that. Each time you try – you first are asked to sign in with apple or to sign up and fill in the very details.You have no privacy!Because first your phone number and name and street address and etc…. is known and assimilated by apple.

  15. Do anyone know when Apple will open the Facetime standard? I know, it uses most standard standards, but still no one can capture a video from it as far as I know. Without knowing what they do with video, it is impossible to interface facetime to platforms other then IOS,Thanks

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