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facetime

With Microsoft splashing out a few dollars on Skype this week, the communication platform has once again hit the headlines. The numbers are impressive – 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010 is nothing to be laughed at, and it’s clear that this medium is growing in a big way.

Although Apple has had a foot in the door with iChat for several years, FaceTime has been their major foray into video communication – initially on the iPhone, and now also on the Mac. It’s been almost a year since the technology was announced at WWDC 2010, but I believe that FaceTime still has a long way to come – as does the whole concept of video communication – before it becomes a pervasive technology.

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The iPhone 4 was released this past June, and with that came a major iOS release. This new hardware and software presented some new possibilities and thus some new applications. The added front-facing camera was begging to be used in a video calling situation and Apple – being the innovators that they are – created FaceTime to utilize this new functionality.

A limiting factor for FaceTime was the fact that it was only functional for calling another iPhone 4 (or the latest iteration of the iPod touch). Last October, Apple released a beta version of FaceTime for Mac, utilising the iSight camera built into most of their notebook and desktop computers.

FaceTime for Mac recently hit the Mac App Store as a full 1.0 release, and today we’ll be taking the final version for a spin!

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Way back when I first became aware of the existence of a technology that could allow mobile handset-handset video chatting, my mind was thoroughly blown. Surely this was something that was only possible in the movies, and couldn’t exist in the real world, right?

But it was indeed possible. And long after it first became possible, Apple did what they always do, and refined power and utility down to awesomeness and perfection.

With the announcement of the iPhone 4, Apple announced to eagerly awaiting fans everywhere that their mobile device to trump all mobile devices would be capable of video chatting.

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