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Apple Planning Video-Call iPhone 268

Posted by Soulskill
from the was-blind-but-now-iSee dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The recently awarded iPhone patent contains hidden claims which indicate Apple is planning to bring video calling and recording features to the iPhone, according to InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe. Buried within the 'embodiments' section of patent number 7,479,949 is this: 'In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.' Wolfe also cites language indicating Apple is aware that having a rear-facing camera is an impediment towards video calls (and also taking pictures of yourself.): 'In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the front of the device so that the user's image may be obtained for videoconferencing while the user views the other video conference participants on the touch screen display.' Screen caps of the patent drawing are also available."
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Apple Planning Video-Call iPhone

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  • Why not sooner? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:36PM (#26695509)
    Someone should write a video-sharing app for the current iPhone and also sell an iPhone Periscope attachment that lets the current camera look at the user.

    After all, this really is one of those times where the iPhone devs must be hitting their heads and saying "Why didn't we think of that sooner?" It seems so obvious in retrospect. Other than the forward-facing camera, there is _nothing_ keeping the current generation of iPhones from having this capability. They've got the power, the robustness, the hardware, and the infrastructure.

    Did the devs just have a brainfart when designing the iPhone or was it their intention all along to release such a great new feature that you couldn't upgrade to without upgrading the whole phone, thereby having to buy a new one?
    • by Vorpix (60341) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:41PM (#26695585)

      or was it their intention all along to release such a great new feature that you couldn't upgrade to without upgrading the whole phone, thereby having to buy a new one?

      no apple would NEVER do something like that.. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by aliquis (678370)

      It's typical Apple maner to have a good idea, implement it fast and then leave the product and not develop it further.

      Which I find so weird, it's understandable with single developers or free projects because then you may enjoy the challenge in getting something to work or just implementing the idea but then get tired of improving the design and make it a good product.

      But in Apples case? iChat, iTunes, iPhoto, Pages, Mail, all good starts but then what? Neither is the application to rule them all.

      • by aliquis (678370)

        Guess I forgot "patent it as much as possible and be a bitch when someone else takes the idea and improves their product to something useful."

        May I add Airtunes to the things above to? Wireless audio from iTunes? Why not from all applications? Youtube? VLC? Games? No, iTunes 'ought to be enough for everyone!

        • by Jellybob (597204)

          Airtunes is a technical limitation I think - you can get get applications that will stream audio from any application (or even the audio output itself) to an Airtunes station, but the lag on it makes it unsuitable for anything other then standalone audio.

          • by aliquis (678370)

            Ah, I see. Yeah I know Airfoil exist but I didn't knew about this issue, that suck :(

            I have a Macbook Pro and when I finally found mini-toslink to toslink adapters it took 3 days before it broke because I moved the computer and the cable got somewhat stuck.

            Got a new one but two days later I stepped on the cable and it got broken again >

            Fucking retarded to use mini-toslink but it's expected from Apple, I'll never buy any Apple hardware again. Why couldn't they just use an additional connector and real tos

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537)

        It's typical Apple maner to have a good idea, implement it fast and then leave the product and not develop it further.

        That doesn't seem right to me at all. In fact, it seems so wrong that I'm trying to figure out whether you're trolling, being sarcastic, or just don't know what you're talking about.

        They were working on the iPhone for something like 7 years before release. It's not a hastily put-together product, and they've continued to refine it and add features ever since it was released. Are you sure that you're not just annoyed that they haven't yet chosen to implement features that you want?

        • by beetle496 (677137)
          Definite troll. He is just jealous, or can't afford the iPhone.
        • by aliquis (678370)

          If it iPhone was open and I could buy it without a subscription for a normal price it would had been an awesome product. I was talking Apple in general, they always seem to miss out on some things and they aren't to good at listening to their consumers ideas, or even accept people spreading the word about any flaws whatsoever.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vitaflo (20507)

        "But in Apples case? iChat, iTunes, iPhoto, Pages, Mail, all good starts but then what? Neither is the application to rule them all."

        This is a bad thing? We talk so much about apps that have tons of bloat in them and how bad it is. Many companies add features to apps just to add features, not because it makes them any better. Many of Apple's apps simply do their job, why do they need to do everything under the sun?

        • by aliquis (678370)

          iChat don't do MSN. Webcam don't work with ICQ or something such, file transfer may not be supported over Jabber, multiple contact lists for each protocol is retarded.

          iTunes have very limited format support and as far as I know you can't let it synchronize the content of a directory without letting it manage a complete library.

          iPhoto don't do adjustments as good as aperture or lightroom and they don't work good with each other / list the adjusted photos of the later ones in iPhoto. It's good enough for brow

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by ColdWetDog (752185) *
            iChat don't do MSN. Webcam don't work with ICQ or something such, file transfer may not be supported over Jabber, multiple contact lists for each protocol is retarded.

            What part of "we're not making it just for you, we're making a simple application that your mom can use" don't you understand?

            iTunes have very limited format support and as far as I know you can't let it synchronize the content of a directory without letting it manage a complete library.

            What part of "we're not making it just for you, w
          • Re:Why not sooner? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DurendalMac (736637) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:02PM (#26699509)
            iChat don't do MSN. Webcam don't work with ICQ or something such, file transfer may not be supported over Jabber, multiple contact lists for each protocol is retarded

            iChat works with AIM, which is fine. I doubt Apple was in a hurry to hop on Microsoft's network, Yahoo video chat sucks greasy dick, and who the hell even uses ICQ anymore? If the webcam doesn't work with ICQ, then blame ICQ for not supporting it. Apple doesn't write their software. I've seen third party apps that have no problem accessing iSights, so quit complaining. Jabber support seems kind of tacked on in iChat. I think Apple knew that grandma wasn't ever going to touch it, so they didn't pretty it up much.

            iTunes have very limited format support and as far as I know you can't let it synchronize the content of a directory without letting it manage a complete library.

            iTunes will rip your CDs, buy songs from their online store, and plays MP3s just fine. WMAs can be set to be converted. As far as music goes, their format support is dandy. Videos are a different matter, but I believe you can put any format supported by Quicktime in it. Get Perian and away you go. Putting them on iPods is another ball of wax.

            iPhoto don't do adjustments as good as aperture or lightroom and they don't work good with each other / list the adjusted photos of the later ones in iPhoto. It's good enough for browsing saved photos but that's about it.

            No shit, Sherlock! Since when was iPhoto supposed to be a full-blown photo editor? Why don't you just bitch that you can't do fine audio editing in iTunes? iPhoto is like iTunes for pictures. Organize, print, and some light retouching. That satisfies most people. If you want to do high-quality adjustments, then use Lightroom or Aperture. iPhoto doesn't really talk to them because it's not supposed to. Aperture isn't meant for retouching your 3MP jpegs and Lightroom would need to read the iPhoto library, something I don't think Adobe gives a damn about.

            iLife and iWork would probably do better with a manual.

            Did you even LOOK for a manual? Ever heard of that help menu, online content, and PDFs?

            Mail don't want to check mails for spam before I open the mails (over IMAP) which is kinda useless because if I have opened the mail then I'll already know if it's spam or not .. Also it's not very good at figuring out what is spam or not.

            Maybe that's because IMAP stores your email server-side instead of downloading them to your computer like POP3 does. You have to teach the spam filter. It's not perfect, but it gets better over time.

            Seriously, this is a lot of baseless bitching. Apple isn't going to do exactly what YOU want them to do with the software. They're going to try and satisfy as many people as they can, and that means appealing to the home market.
    • After all, this really is one of those times where the iPhone devs must be hitting their heads and saying "Why didn't we think of that sooner?"

      Not really. You don't think 100000000 developers have already thought of this idea (here I am counting every single current iPhone developer and a whole bunch of outside developers)?

      You can't do it now, because the SDK for the camera only takes stills, not video - even the grey areas you can use to capture video are pretty grey, and Apple probably would not accept

    • Did the devs just have a brainfart when designing the iPhone or was it their intention all along to release such a great new feature that you couldn't upgrade to without upgrading the whole phone, thereby having to buy a new one?

      Heh, I remember in the late '90s when car makers came out with the 'three door pickup'. It was the next evolution of pickups! I remember thinking, what will they think of next, the FOUR DOOR PICKUP?

  • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:38PM (#26695533) Homepage

    Why is this news?

    A 3G phone which can do video calls!? Omg!! ...

    A phone which can use its camera for storing videos and which can play music? No shit!

    I had assumed the iPhone could already do video-calls, kinda shitty the 3G one can't (if that's really so.)

    • Duh (Score:5, Informative)

      by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:46PM (#26695645)

      The iPhone's screen points one way.
      The iPhone's camera points in the opposite direction.

      Kinda hard to have a video conference when you have to be on both sides of the device at once for it to work.

      • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:53PM (#26695747) Homepage

        Kinda retarded to do a 3G phone with only one camera.

        More or less the only reason to get 3G at all is to be able to do video calls. I had assumed Apple would had manage to do this right from the beginning, but I guess they would sell less phones then .. Or that it would mess up the design of the front.

        • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Firehed (942385) on Monday February 02, 2009 @01:08PM (#26695977) Homepage

          What's the reasoning there? My calls are flaky enough voice-only, and it's not like adding video adds to the experience. 3G has a lot of benefits, but video-calls from a cell phone seems like features just for the sake of features (which, generally, is avoided by Apple).

          The last thing I want is a requirement to wear pants while working in my home office, thank you very much.

          • by aliquis (678370)

            Just because you CAN do video calls you don't have to. And yes, I already know much people don't request this feature or care (except deaf people), but it's still more or less the definition of a 3G phone for me.

            • by HTH NE1 (675604)

              Video telephones are also part of the definition of the 21st Century Future along with flying cars and personal AI robots.

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            I'm waiting for them to come out with the Dick Tracy 2-way wrist watch with video....

            iWatch?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by ricebowl (999467)

            The last thing I want is a requirement to wear pants while working in my home office, thank you very much.

            Uh...it's for video conferencing, or calling. I assumed you'd be having your face in the picture, unless...where are you wearing your pants? Maybe you should try a hat?

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:59PM (#26695819)
        That's why Apple is introducing its newest iPhone add-on, the iMirror! For the low price of only $99, you can clip this shiny (ooooh, shiny!) rectangle to your iPhone, which then, through the magic of very high frequency electromagnetic waves, WIRELESSLY transmits your image to the camera on the backside of the iPhone. Now you can see your friends and be seen AT THE SAME TIME. Hurry! Supplies are limited!
      • by Ilgaz (86384)

        They could do what Nokia, Sony Ericsson and all other 3G handset makers did. Put a basic camera (640x480) on front of iPhone. But no, they should sell upgrades right? It is one of the smallest cameras you can see and yet it works perfectly for everyone.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        You an point it at your peener or hoo-haa. Video chat would get real interesting. Maybe come up with small faces...

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        Kinda hard to have a video conference when you have to be on both sides of the device at once for it to work.

        Stand facing a mirror or other reflective surface.

        Even better if the camera was on the edge. Then you can hold it to your ear and not only have it read your reflection but maybe also project the other party into the mirror and onto your own face (forehead, cheek, fogged or frosted part of the mirror, whatever). Digital filters can remove the projected image from the image sent to the other party in real time.

        Except you'd need it on two edges to handle left- and right-eared (and ambiauditory?) people.

    • by Nursie (632944) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:58PM (#26695805)

      It's news because Apple are thinking about it.

      For some reason. Like when the iPhone came out and everyone was all "ooo! a smartphone! we've never seen one before!". Now I don't know if this was due to the US market being so far behind the rest of the world or just Apple Fanboi'ism, but it was quite surprising.

      Yes, Apple make great hardware designs. Yes, Apple do fantastic software interfaces. But the device capabilities have never held up to the competition.

      Hell, I had a dual-cam phone a few years back that could do 3G and video calling...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by powerlord (28156)

        Now I don't know if this was due to the US market being so far behind the rest of the world ...

        Stop right there, you've got it in one.

        The U.S. Cell phone market is ridiculously behind most of the developed world. Part of this is due to the market being largely controlled by a string of localized, relatively unregulated, non-governmental, incumbent monopolies (Verizon) with little competition or incentive to "innovate" beyond "how do we squeeze more $$$ from our customers?", and part of it is that the U.S.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fbjon (692006)

          > Now I don't know if this was due to the US market being so far behind the rest of the world ...
          Stop right there, you've got it in one.

          Quite right, I thought this was ridiculous "news" at first, but here's a thought: what if the video-call iphone ends up making video calls more popular than they're now, by virtue of increasing the base of capable phones? There'd be more data over the air, meaning more demand, more competition, cheaper prices... all of which I approve of.

    • Why is this news?

      A 3G phone which can do video calls!? Omg!! ...

      Ah, to clarify, this isn't just any 3G phone that can do video calls. This is an iPhone. You know, from THE company? Led, by their beloved iSteve(TM)? The iOne? Also known as iYoda.

      There's marketing, and then there's iMarketing. Let's hope for their sake their beloved iLeader is around for a while longer. Not sure how much longer they can keep up the 80%-fashion/20%-function blend across an entire product line, especially in this economy.

      • by aliquis (678370)

        If the iPhone 3G was a Microsoft product and they have missed to add the second cam releasing yet another model for people to buy just to get it headline would read something like:

        "Microsoft finally admit and somewhat fix their poor excuse for a 3G phone.", with additional "haha" tags and what not.

        Not sure how much longer they can keep up the 80%-fashion/20%-function blend across an entire product line, especially in this economy.

        Yeah, the user interfaces are good and the case designs is ok to (though they mess up to, toilet lid iBook? iPod Nano fat?)

        But I could had designed the hardware specs and help them improve the software functionali

  • 'In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.'

    Or, this is just Apple's attempt at filing a patent that is as broad as possible.

    • Billygoats (Score:3, Insightful)

      by itsdapead (734413)

      Or, this is just Apple's attempt at filing a patent that is as broad as possible.

      ...because if they don't, some joker will probably come along and patent the specific idea of using a "multi touch" interface for video conferencing, and in N years time when Apple are just about to launch the new video iPhone, up will pop the troll...

      Remember, a lot of these patents are just there for mutual assured destruction - if they're ever rolled out, only the cockroaches will survive (unless some bastard has patented their genome).

  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:39PM (#26695545)
    Someone can watch a video of my inner ear while listening to me
  • Safety (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sstpm (1463079) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:39PM (#26695555)
    I'm a fairly libertarian guy, but wouldn't a whole mob of new video-callers be somewhat dangerous on the road? If you thought texting while driving was bad, just imagine ubiquitous video calling. There would almost have to be legislation against video calls while driving.
    • Well then I can see that your diving and hang up with a line of, "When you're in a more responsible position we can do business."

      If they are reckless enough to video chat and drive. I really don't need to be talking to them for a business deal.

      • by Firehed (942385)

        Most businesspeople in that position are smart enough to make that call on their own. I am much more concerned about soccer moms trying to stalk their children from behind the wheel of their minivans.

    • by Jellybob (597204)

      Why do you need legislation against video calls? Surely that comes under "due care and attention".

      • by Sancho (17056) *

        It's for the the same reason that we need laws against texting while driving--because idiots don't think about the fact that they're being reckless and think that if there's not a specific law against it, that they can do it.
         

    • by zappepcs (820751)

      Huh, I don't get it? It's not American Idol! You don't have to look at the screen just because it's there. Next you'll want to call it face-free calling while you are on the road. No need for more legislation, even if you are not on the phone, you can be ticketed for reckless or dangerous driving, lack of due care and attention, and probably a couple of other things. Seems to cover talking on the phone, putting on make-up, eating, arguing with the spouse, smacking your kids (I won't smack mine, but yours I

    • by tritonman (998572)
      You have a point, but just THINK of all the new high-res video of car accidents we will get to see on FOX! They could have a new weekly series of iPhone car crash videos.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm a fairly libertarian guy, but wouldn't a whole mob of new video-callers be somewhat dangerous on the road?

      I'm a fairly libertarian guy too, but you didn't make any actual suggestions in this sentence and so it is particularly retarded.

      So is mine, but that's satire, baby.

      If you thought texting while driving was bad, just imagine ubiquitous video calling.

      I'm imagining it. Porn on the interstate... where do I sign?

      There would almost have to be legislation against video calls while driving.

      Why not just utilize existing legislation that says that if you got into an accident because you were being a fuckhead, it's an additional charge like "reckless endangerment" or something? And for that matter, we could have done that in California instead of passing a law requiring a ha

  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jargoone (166102) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:41PM (#26695581)

    This is great! Now, can we please have MMS and copy/paste like smartphones from 8 years ago?

    • Now, can we please have MMS..like smartphones from 8 years ago?

      Should we bring back everything popular from eight years ago? How about floppy discs?

      Some things should be left in the past. Emailing pictures to people is more sensible than MMS.

      Copy & paste is a different matter, but even there you are not forward thinking...

      • Should we bring back everything popular from eight years ago? How about floppy discs? Some things should be left in the past. Emailing pictures to people is more sensible than MMS.

        Except that not everybody has an e-mail address. Several close friends of mine either don't have an e-mail address or don't check their e-mail often. All of them have cell phones with MMS. The "e-mail it" approach is candy ass. There shouldn't be anything that a free cellphone (given to you by the cell phone company when you sign

      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday February 02, 2009 @06:42PM (#26700909) Homepage

        Copy & paste is a different matter, but even there you are not forward thinking...

        What is that supposed to mean? It's a vague, nebulous criticism that seems to want to have its cake and eat it.

        You seem to be attacking him for not thinking in some loose way of what *might* happen in the future and/or not coming up with some better alternative. I don't see *you* coming up with any ideas if they're so obvious!

        And more importantly- we're not living in the future; we're living in the present. It's perfectly reasonable to want research into a more effective alternative to cut and paste. However, unless there's something practical ready or imminent, it's just as reasonable to criticise Apple for not including the next best thing in the meantime.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Nah you'll get iMessages in the form of compressed Keynote-presentations instead.

  • by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:42PM (#26695593)
    It would seem like a majority of this work is already done as between iChat and Quicktime; most if not all of this functionality in OS X since at least 10.3 (maybe earlier). It would seem all they have to do as the poster said, would be to be able to capture the image on the front of the device or have some sort of add-on and code a front-end for the smaller screen.

    I am not surprised Apple didn't release this on 1.x models under Edge and the weaker battery, but even on 3G at a low-scale, it would seem like it would be "good enough" for most applications. I wonder if their problem lies with the agreement with AT&T since they are working to prevent VoIP on the platform. It would be interesting if the carrier could detect packets on a protocol, or maintain the servers that connect the video-calls and charge wireless minutes for this kind of traffic. However, I think carriers ought to move away from the call-minutes model in favor of a flat-fee, as in most calling situations I am in (M2M or Nights/Weekends) that is effectively what they are doing. Though I am sure their two biggest cash cows are overages and SMS, which has been discussed before.
    • by p0tat03 (985078) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:50PM (#26695703)

      "Good enough" is not really in Apple's vocabulary, though. I've seen many MP3 phones before the iPhone, and all of them were "good enough". You could drag files onto the memory cards, the music playing app would pick them up. You could play, pause, next, shuffle... all the basic features.

      But I hated all of them. They were "good enough", but not "good". When I got my hands on the iPhone I felt that it was finally media integration into a phone, done right.

      I don't think Apple is going to release video-calling until they have a compelling way to work around the limitations of existing implementations.

      • "Good enough" is not really in Apple's vocabulary, though. I've seen many MP3 phones before the iPhone, and all of them were "good enough". You could drag files onto the memory cards, the music playing app would pick them up. You could play, pause, next, shuffle... all the basic features.

        Actually, most current phones that Verizon ships aren't even really capable of this. Proprietary formats galore!

        The only bright side is that bluetooth file transfers (finally) seem to work.

    • I wonder if their problem lies with the agreement with AT&T since they are working to prevent VoIP on the platform.

      Or maybe it's par for the course with Apple, who frequently introduces new versions and slight upgrades of their products because they know their biggest fans will continue to buy whatever they churn out regardless of whether or not it's a really significant upgrade. Why put all your features into one version when you can add them in over a period of time in new devices you can sell?

  • Makes some sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:46PM (#26695649) Homepage Journal

    The "video phones of the future" always assumed use while one was outside of the home or at a place of business. The concept broke down when it was realized that people don't want video feeds in their homes. (The "I just got out of the shower" example is often bandied about.) With a cell phone, the concept starts to make sense again. Like with the characters in TekWar, you're usually in an acceptable location and/or state of dress to take video calls on a cell phone.

    Of course, it will be interesting to see how many calls are answered in privacy mode. Will people even trust such a feature?

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      I don't know about USA but I haven't seen a SINGLE video calling person in my life in Europe and even in Japan which is the base of 3G technology.

      I had my 3G phone with me while travelling to Japan and while my phone even pushed me to do video calls (via menus etc.) , I didn't really care.

      Video calling exists since 33,6K era analogue modems (forgot the standard name) and ISDN, nobody really cares. If Apple can make people use Video calls, my respect to them will really get higher in non technical matter. I

  • Nintendo did it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:59PM (#26695813) Homepage Journal

    See the new Nintendo DSi for a good example:
    - hi-res camera in the rear for taking pictures
    - low-res camera in the front for video conferencing (given the resolution of the Nintendo DSi, even a 0.3 megapixel camera is completely overkill)

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      The "hi-res camera" thing is a much-repeated misunderstanding. Both cameras are VGA CCDs apparently.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by master811 (874700)

      In addition to nearly every other 3G phone on the market which are nearly all able to do video conferencing.

  • Sounds great! This should bring the iPhone battery life to a healthy 3 minutes, down from the current generations 3 hour battery life.

    In all seriousness, why is this news? I would hope every communications company is planning for the future. The future of phone calls is video calls.

    Lets sift through every companies patents and predict all of the wild ideas they are planning in the next 20 years...

    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      Personally, I wanna know how they're going to handle the bandwidth needed for video conferencing on a cell fone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

        Same way that every other 3G phone on the market does.

        It's really not a lot of bandwidth, and video calling predates 3G data by some years.. I remember only 5 years ago trying to arrange data for a 3G phone and being told by the operator that they had no plans to implement it (they did so 2 years later).

  • claims which indicate Apple is planning to bring video calling and recording features to the iPhone

    Of course we all know that a patent claim is an indication that a product is imminently coming to market. That's why patents work so well.

    Mind you, it would be somewhat odd if Apple weren't working on these capabilities. They're so far ahead of the rest of the market in UI, it would be nice if they made some effort to catch up in features. Were there any claims in the patent for "a device for the recording of digital pictures that do not look bloody awful"?

    Apple is aware that having a rear-facing camera is an impediment towards video calls

    I don't think the rear-facing camera is a major wor

  • Great news! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nokia phones did it for years.

    But no, this is "THE IPHONE" we are talking about - that's BIG news, you know...

  • In patenting obvious use of computers with plain devices attached?

    An iphone is nothing else then a computer with the capability to make calls.

    Why then EVERYTHING the damned computer does has to get a brand new patent?

  • by thbb (200684) on Monday February 02, 2009 @01:31PM (#26696375) Homepage

    Back in the 90's, I did some work for the Ontario Telepresence Project [toronto.edu]. We did lots of studies on videoconferencing, shared mediaspaces...

    What strikes me given the relative lack of outcome of the project, compared to the ubiquity of today's camera phones, is that the Telepresence project had it wrong when it wanted to have people *face* each other during conversations.

    It turns out, this is not what we want. Staring at your interlocutor's face is not what you do in a usual conversation, it's even embarassing. You look at a shared point of interest. Turning the camera the opposite side of the screen was the way to go. First, you could use the cell phone as a camera, and second, in a phone conversation, it's much more useful to say "look at this", than to offer a nice view of you're hairy nose.

    Or, to put it like St. Exupery:
    Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flitty (981864)
      Infinite Jest, the David Foster Wallace novel goes through the scenario of "video-telephony".

      It starts out as a novelty, everyone wants it, realizes they what they look like on the video, which leads to people wearing Telephone masks, so they don't look so awful and can use the telephone right out of the shower, etc.

      Next, comes the realization that most people are doing other things while talking on the phone, and 100% attention to the conversation is only an illusion both parties have on both sides o
    • by frankmu (68782)
      thanks for the insight. this would explain my kids behavior with their grandparents. we use iChat, but the kids hate teleconferencing unless they are showing off cool background effects. my parents enjoy seeing the kids goof off anyway, so it works out in the end.
  • Am I the only one that doesn't really WANT video calls from a cell phone? Sure they have their place I suppose. A business meeting connecting two conference rooms with video/audio, but when I'm talking on a cell phone I just want to talk, I don't want to have to hold thing thing away from me so the camera can have just the right view, worrying about what's going on around me and if it'll show up on the screen or if I'm really in focus and all that. It's a cell phone. On average my cell calls are like 4 minu

  • Because, you know, no company ever files for a patent on something they come up with that they might want to use, but don't necessarily have plans to use.

    With the number of patents Apple has and files for, I think it's more likely that this is a 'concept art' kind of patent, on an idea that they might pursue, or might not.

  • This is just awful. Clearly without Steve Jobs at the helm Apple is spiraling out of control. Video calling? What's next? Some sort of device that allows you to listen to music on the phone? Mark my words. This is the beginning of the end.
  • The "Description of the Embodiments" section is neither hidden nor a claim (in fact, with a patent, nothing is hidden---by definition). More importantly, it is not necessarily an indication of where Apple is going to take the market. When I write a patent for a client, I fill the description with every variation, combination, and permutation we can think up, just to make sure we have everything covered. And there's a fair probability that a particular embodiment is of my own contrivance. I just throw it

  • The new Google phone is supposed to have this feature as well. They've been talking about it for some time. It was supposed to be out January 29th, but it was going to be for T-Mobile only. However, the latest rumor is that Sprint and Verizon will both offer the G2 under another name. HTC's CEO said the phone should be out in April now.

  • I'd think that the availability of Microsoft Portrait [microsoft.com] (now at version 3.1) for Windows Mobile phones would count as prior art.

  • The camera points right up your nose.

    Seriously, unless you hold the phone up over your forehead pointing down, the people on the other end get the most unflattering view right up your nose.

  • by Nick Ives (317) on Monday February 02, 2009 @03:27PM (#26698005)

    Have Apple invented this yet? Last I checked the iPhone 3G didn't have it which is frankly ridiculous.

    At this rate the iPhone should be a pretty decent phone in about three or four revisions. As it stands it's just a very fancy PDA (killer interface, as usual for Apple) with some phone features and even its functionality as a PDA is limited by being locked into the Apple store.

    OK, I didn't want to get flamed by Apple fanbois for being ignorant so I Googled for iPhone 3G MMS and got this [fluffypig.com] page where some fanboi is raving about how awesome the App store is for letting people pay extra for functionality included as standard in every other phone you can buy. The iPhone is such a joke!

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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