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Software Communications Iphone Apple

Should Apple Let Competitors Use FaceTime? (cnet.com) 211

In 2010, Steve Jobs first introduced FaceTime and promised it would become an open industry standard that could be used by Apple's competitors -- not just Apple. Well, eight years later and that still hasn't happened. CNET's Sean Hollister provides a theory as to why that is: There's also an ongoing lawsuit to consider -- as Ars Technica documented in 2013, Apple was forced to majorly change how FaceTime works to avoid infringing on the patents of a company called VirnetX. Instead of letting phones communicate directly with each other, Apple added "relay servers" to help the phones connect. Presumably, someone would have to pay for those servers, and/or figure out a way for them to talk to Google or Microsoft or other third-party servers if FaceTime were going to be truly open. But that doesn't make a broken promise less frustrating. Particularly now that Apple could potentially fix annoying business video calls as well. A Skype-killing video chat service that worked on Mac, iOS *and* Windows, Android and the open web? That's something I bet companies would be happy to pay for, too.

Should Apple Let Competitors Use FaceTime?

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  • Usually when a slashdot story ends in a question it's an easy "No". But this time it's different. The answer is YES (and I'm a video conferencing engineer)
    • Usually when a slashdot story ends in a question it's an easy "No".

      But this time it's different.

      The answer is YES (and I'm a video conferencing engineer)

      If you are indeed a "Videoconferencing Engineer" (whatever THAT means!), you would already understand why Apple can't, in a practical sense, let everyone use FaceTime's infrastructure (forced upon them as a workaround for Virnext's/SAIC's BOGUS Patents) for free.

      And if Apple make FaceTime a subscription service, the all the Slashtards would do nothing but excoriate them for attempting to "Profiteer", even though it would simply be cost-offsetting due to the interposing server requirement necessitated by the

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        They could certainly set up a federated system so that Apple users use their servers and Android servers use Google's servers.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Err... Android users.

          • Err... Android users.

            They would still have to invest in an Android and Windows Client, at the very least, and the traffic would have to traverse their network and servers, even from the Android and Windows Clients.

            And we aren't talking about SMS/MMS messages. This is streaming audio/video at at least 100 kbps. Not insignificant when multiplied by a zillion Android/Windows users.

            No thank you.

            • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

              They would still have to invest in an Android and Windows Client, at the very least, and the traffic would have to traverse their network and servers, even from the Android and Windows Clients.

              Only if they were going between an iOS user and an Android or Windows user. Android-to-Android would hit Google's server exclusively. And if it is going between an iOS user and a non-iOS user, Apple's systems *should* be involved.

              And we aren't talking about SMS/MMS messages. This is streaming audio/video at at least

  • His theory seems to be:

    1) It is expensive to run the servers needed to work around a patent, currently under dispute and may be invalid, so adding devices requires someone paying for the servers. So once the patents are ruled invalid the barrier to Apple making FaceTime available to other devices goes away?

    2) They like lock in. I bet #2 wins.

  • I do not want any Apple software on any of my devices.

    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Friday June 08, 2018 @10:37AM (#56749628)

      And I do not want any Facebook or Microsoft software on any of my devices.

      • I don't want any software on my devices not written by me! I'm working right now with my soldering iron to fix the firmware so that the machine boots cleanly into nothing. Then I will build a switchboard to hack together and rudimentary "monitor" like OS to boot into. Then I will start writing my assembler ... just not sure from where and how to feed it its source code ... USB is still to far away, a file system out of scope ... I guess as a one man project, spending about4h a day, it will take roughly 48 y

    • Chances are you already have Apple software on your device as Apple has contributed to many open source projects. For example, Chrome is forked from WebKit which Apple forked from KHTML.
  • Port iMessage over to android already. The best part is messages don't even need cell access as they can be sent over wifi. Then make Windows builds for the desktop too.

    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      There's dozens of existing messaging apps, most of which are better than Apple's. Android can use any of them. There's no reason to pollute Android with iOS crap.

      • Those third party apps are great and all but nobody with an iPhone will be using it.

        • On my iPhone I have: Skype, Threema, Telegram, WhatsApp, Viber and Line. So have most of my friends.
          How exactly do you chat with an Android friend who has no iMessenger but only Viber or WhatsApp, without installing Viber or WhatsApp?
          Actually it is the opposite way around, most iPhone friends have switched off iMessenger as it does not work reliable cross devices.

      • There's dozens of existing messaging apps, most of which are better than Apple's. Android can use any of them. There's no reason to pollute Android with iOS crap.

        Other than the fact that it is vastly superior, or you all wouldn't be pining for the fjords, which is what this ENTIRE article is about!

    • Came here to say the same thing.

      In general, all the video chat apps (Skype, WebEx, Hangouts) are crap once you get beyond 1-to-1. Half the meetings I've ever been to that involve video chat started at ten past the scheduled start because of connectivity issues. And the root cause is often some obscure setting someone flipped to get someone else's video chat product to work at the last meeting. (And no, "let's just use one company standard" never works because of vendors, partners, etc.)
    • Why in the world would Apple want to give people on other devices one less reason to switch to their own devices?
      • Most people that use apple products - I'm not one of them - love it for many reasons. I seriously doubt people would leave the Apple world simply because there was an android facetime app.

        • I seriously doubt people would leave the Apple world simply because there was an android facetime app.

          Ok. I was wrong.

          https://apple.slashdot.org/com... [slashdot.org]

        • I meant that for an Android user, having the ability to use FaceTime would give me one less reason to switch to an iPhone. Apple in effect would be giving their own offering one less compelling feature.
          • And one more -- the ability to video chat with all of my friends without having to install anything beyond what the device came with. For some people, I guess that feature already exists; but it's currently limited to those who only speak to people who own iPhones.
            • Having the functionality built-in is huge. Being able to press a single button while in your normal phone dialer is key. While you and I may install an app like Skype, your parents or grandparents are less likely to do so. Because FaceTime is right there from the start and so simple to use, it's been successful and key for many older, less tech-forward folks.
      • It is the opposite around.
        As soon as they realize how cool an Apple Software is, they might switch devices.

  • Don't get me wrong, video is great, but I'm still waiting for a system that does voice really well and can call out to "real" phone numbers. Skype can do it. Google does it for free. Why not FaceTime?

    For that matter, if both ends are on iPhones, and we're both on Wifi, why can't it route my phone call over FT back end invisibly, just like it does in Messages now?

  • Only two features... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday June 08, 2018 @09:44AM (#56749266)

    Facetime and iMessage are the only two features keeping me on the apple ecosystem.

    Mom and Dad can easily call their kids and with the touch of a button switch to facetime and see the grandkids.

    With android, I'm not sure if you're supposed to send messages with Messages, Allo, Hangouts....

    • Agreed. Facetime, iMessage, and things like Find My Friends, are the few things that keep me absolutely tied to Apple. They would be wise not to do anything to change that, much as it would help me have more choice.
      • I know no one who as "find my friends" switched on.

        Who is using such a privacy breach? And what actually makes it so interesting for you? Tracking your kids? Your wife, do really all your friends know where you are?

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Kids and wife.

          Got to know what the former is up to, can't let the latter sneak up on me.

    • Yeah I was surprised the summary indicating companies would care about video messaging, the primary use case is definitely grandparents/grandkids.
      • Yeah I was surprised the summary indicating companies would care about video messaging, the primary use case is definitely grandparents/grandkids.

        And HOW many of those are there?

        Sounds like a pretty large market-segment to me...

    • by orlanz ( 882574 )

      Same. The Android's fragmented market hasn't provided a solution that is integrated, dead simple, high quality, and uses little battery. I think Google really messed up here. They should have provided the underlying messaging infrastructure for video, text, and calling that vendors and developers could build upon.

      Not only my parents, but I come across a lot of foreign GPs and parents who either never touched technology or used low end Androids. Those folks can have an iDevice explained to them over the p

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Android comes with Google's messaging apps, which supports video chat. It works fine.

        It's all there, it's just that people prefer WhatsApp or whatever is hot this year. Google's failing is not lack of infrastructure or product, it's a failure to market it. But then again maybe Google are not that bothered, because there isn't really any money to be made from encrypted chat and video conferencing.

        • The failure of google is: the apps don't work, or to be fair: work barely.
          And more important to me: they are so ugly it hurts my eyes to use them. (Looking at you: Hangouts)

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Hangouts works fine for me. What issue do you have?

            It's not pretty but the speaker icon system is very functional.

    • With android, I'm not sure if you're supposed to send messages with Messages, Allo, Hangouts....

      With Android why would you pin yourself down to a single ecosystem just like you did with the iOS? Messages, Allo, Hangouts? The answer is none of the above. Use a system that is cross platform.

      • Use a system that is cross platform.
        I don't get it. Why do people who are so smart as you are write such bollox, nonsense, bullshit?

        If you only speak english, I have to address you in english, I can not sent you a letter in german or mandarin.

        If you only have WhatsApp, and I find you sexy, obviously I install WhatsApp instead of pestering you with begging you to install a cross platform app.

        If someone gives you his phone number you call him, if he gives you his eMail, you sent him an email. You are not pes

  • Skype will connect with people that aren't in the current Apple ecosystem. I'm hardly an ardent supporter of our overlords (Microsoft) but their (*) system even works over 4G across multiple platforms.


    * And by their I mean the thing that they bought, this was an acquisition.

    I admit being able to dynamically switch from call to video call is cool (FaceTime) but what else does it do that you can't get on something that works for everyone?
  • by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Friday June 08, 2018 @10:05AM (#56749432)
    "A Skype-killing video chat service that worked on Mac, iOS *and* Windows, Android and the open web? That's something I bet companies would be happy to pay for, too."

    Why would anyone think that facetime would kill the market leader if they ever stepped it up and delivered almost what compteitors were already delivering. Skype already works on Windows, UWP, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, WatchOS, Windows Phone, HoloLens, Xbox One... It does hd video, hd group video, audio, messaging... I mean I understand the need for competition but we've already got that in spades. Does Facetime actually bring anything useful to the table? I was under the impression that it was just a "me too" videoconference app that is limited to apple only so that Apple could continue to have their walled garden. Does it actually have some valuable and unique feature that I should be coveting?
    • Yes. It works and works better than Skype.
    • Does Facetime actually bring anything useful to the table?

      Good question. If you live in a country where a messaging system not tied to an OS vendor is the norm (such as Brazil or the Netherlands with WhatsApp, or China with WeChat) you would honestly wonder what the fuss is all about. No one I know uses Facetime though plenty of people use video chatting.

    • Does Facetime actually bring anything useful to the table?

      Yes, as a matter of fact it does.

      It works.

      Unlike the "System Formerly Known as Lync".

      • Does Facetime actually bring anything useful to the table?

        Yes, as a matter of fact it does.

        It works.

        Unlike the "System Formerly Known as Lync".

        I don't think skype and lync are really related. Lync was a copycat product made by Microsoft just as facetime is a copycat product made by Apple. Neither of them brought anything interesting to the table. If "it's better than LYNC" is all that Facetime has going for it... that doesn't bode well for the future of facetime on platforms where users have a choice.

        • Does Facetime actually bring anything useful to the table?

          Yes, as a matter of fact it does.

          It works.

          Unlike the "System Formerly Known as Lync".

          I don't think skype and lync are really related. Lync was a copycat product made by Microsoft just as facetime is a copycat product made by Apple. Neither of them brought anything interesting to the table. If "it's better than LYNC" is all that Facetime has going for it... that doesn't bode well for the future of facetime on platforms where users have a choice.

          "Skype For Business" is what I meant by "The System Formerly Known as Lync". They are the same product, just rebranded by MS.

    • Does Facetime actually bring anything useful to the table? I was under the impression that it was just a "me too" videoconference app that is limited to apple only so that Apple could continue to have their walled garden. Does it actually have some valuable and unique feature that I should be coveting?

      The first assumption that everyone makes is that Product A was meant to compete with Product B. In this case, I don't think FaceTime was ever meant to replace multi-user business video conferencing apps like Skype and WebEx. It was meant to be an alternate to consumer phone calls by adding video. But it worked over Wifi so consumers didn't have to use minutes. Android has many alternates to FaceTime including Google Hangouts which debuted after FaceTime; however, every 3rd party app might suffer from the sa

  • The story fails to mention that Steve Jobs' announcement was also the first time any of the programming team at Apple had heard it.

    Since then, maybe they could have engineered a new solution that could be open, but Jobs basically made that point up on the spot and following through on that at the time really wasn't feasible. After the initial announcement window had passed, it'd be hard to believe that it would be worth their time.

  • Since the original statement was made, I believe Apple was sued over use of one of the technologies FaceTime utilizes. I'm not sure opening it up is an option, due to its use of other technologies not necessarily owned by Apple.
  • Presumably, someone would have to pay for those servers, and/or figure out a way for them to talk to Google or Microsoft or other third-party servers if FaceTime were going to be truly open

    If only there was a standard cross (X) Messaging Platform Protocol which messaging servers could use to talk to each other.

  • For some reason, MS has removed the ability to add a phone number to an existing contact in Skype. If you want to make a call you have to enter the number again and again. If there was an alternative I would use it.
  • by crow ( 16139 )

    What about Signal?

    I've only used it for text messages, but supposedly it works for voice and video as well.

  • So yes, letting everyone use FaceTime would bring a quick end to Skype. The exclusivity FaceTime has right now is why despite its simplicity, nobody uses it.

  • By restricting it to the Apple ecosystem, it has so far remained pretty clear that it is an Apple-only thing.

    If they open it up, however, I expect there's going to be lots of confusion about who really controls the technology because of the popularity of Facebook.

    Conceptually, yes, I think that it's a good thing. But given the potential for trademark dilution, I don't think it's in Apple's or Facebook's best interest to do this. I think that Apple should consider renaming it before opening it, or no

  • I have a "theory" as to why that is, too: IT'S FUCKING APPLE. THEY DO VENDOR LOCK-IN.

    Not that hard to figure out.

interlard - vt., to intersperse; diversify -- Webster's New World Dictionary Of The American Language

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