I took a little time this weekend to test out the iPhone 4’s FaceTime capabilities (since I “Finally” upgraded).

I had a little help testing out FaceTime from Kerel Cooper of OnTheBlack.com who Vlogs (Video Blogs) about the NY Mets. He also happens to be a fan of all things Apple like myself. That’s me and my little head in the upper left corner of that screenshot. ;)

My intention was to get a screencast of the conversation to give everyone an idea of how easy it is to use the software on the phone. Unfortunately my screen-casting software cannot keep up with the video capabilities of the iPhone 4. I had no problem taking screen-casts on the old 3G so my screen-casting days are on hold till I find suitable software to get the job done.

Some Background on FaceTime

FaceTime for Mac OS X was announced on October 20, 2010 at the “Back to the Mac” Media event on the Apple Campus.

On February 24, 2011 FaceTime left beta and was listed in the Mac App Store for $0.99. Apple claims that it intended to provide the application for free, but was prohibited by the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 from providing an unadvertised new feature of an already sold product without enduring ‘onerous accounting measures’. However, the free beta is still available for download from the Apple servers. On March 2, 2011, FaceTime support was announced for the newly-introduced iPad 2, which gained forward- and rear-facing cameras for this purpose.

FaceTime is not compatible with non-Apple devices or any other video calling services. The MacBook Pro Early-2011 introduced high-definition FaceTime which may only be used with devices that have an HD FaceTime camera.

How Many Ways Can I Connect?

RIght now you can only use FaceTime with the email address that is associated with your Apple ID or with the phone number of your iPhone. For those friends who have multiple email addresses, you’ll have to make sure you know the email address associated with their Apple account or else you will not be able to connect with them.

Whenever someone tries to reach you, the call rings through on every Mac you own even if FaceTime isn’t running. So you never have to worry about making yourself available. If you don’t want to receive calls, just turn FaceTime off in preferences.

I love the fact that when you  FaceTime someone though email it will forward the call to the person’s iPhone, Mac, iPad or iPod touch. You will be found. :)

Quick Tip: You may want to rethink which email address you have associated with your Apple account. Using your primary email account may open you up the entire internet via FaceTime. Using a secondary account that only your real world friends know may be a better idea. Just sayin’. :)

How Does FaceTime Stack up to Skype?

If you have a choice between using FaceTime or Skype I recommend going with FaceTime. You can check out this article on How Skype does, and Doesn’t WorkSkype has historically had many software problems and late last year the entire Skype network crashed for several days, you can pretty much count on these kind of problems showing up on a regular basis.

When you call someone on Skype your call is passing through any number of PCs from your PC to the destination’s PC. If you have a PC with a high bandwidth connection Skype also uses your computer as a node to help connect calls to other computers. But Skype can only pass through networks that do not have firewalls. In a nutshell, for Skype to work, it needs access to insecure PCs on insecure networks.

Quick Tip: The only way to stay secure on Skype is for both parties to be using a VPN. If only one person uses a VPN the other half of the call can still be eavesdropped on.

Is FaceTime More Secure than Skype?

Most definitely but you do have a responsibility to secure your own network. Hopefully your networks wireless router is password protected, you have one of the encrypted settings on your router turned on and the other party has done the same. If not you might as well be using Skype.

For even more protection you may want to install and use a VPN but the other party on the call should also use a VPN. A VPN is the last line of defense against a person who gets access to your network router.

VPN For the iPhone?

And Yes, there are VPN’s available for the iphone. If your using Astrill VPN you can download the instructions on how to setup your VPN –  Astrill L2VPN Manual Apple iPhone. If not your VPN service should have instructions available to walk you through the process. UPDATE: I currently use Cloak and they have a decent $1.99 a month plan, also for iPhone and iPad.

So use FaceTime and Skype wisely. You never know who’s watching! :)

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