Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Apple Has To Improve FaceTime And More Its Communication Features More Social

FaceTime use in my family has been limited.  Clearly, Skype has won this battle.  However, the video chat or conferencing war will continue to go on.  With the 2012 iPad introduced and went on sale just this past weekend, Apple could have made FaceTime a more central element of mobile communication.  While that clearly did not happen, Apple can still move forward on this.

Here’s why I think that’ll happen.  Apple first introduced iChat on OS X years ago and while over time, it gained video chatting, it languished as Skype and others take over in terms of features and popularity.  And with all things Apple, apps can sit in developmental limbo as far as users are concerned.  Apple will give no clue if something is being worked on or allowed a slow painful death.

We finally got FaceTime on the iPad and iPhone last year and the Mac got it with Lion.  As a user, you can’t help but feel the app is a bit spartan and Apple is trying to figure out where to go from there.

Then this year, we got Messages with iOS 5 and Apple killed off iChat on the Mac in favor of OS X’s own Message app.

But as a user, you have to ask why Apple has two separate apps for communicate, by one text and another by video, when it clearly makes sense that Apple should have kept iChat and merge FaceTime and Message into it.  After all, Message still retains IM capability.

At the same time, Facetime is still an one-to-one enagement.  I would have liked to see it gain multi-user abilities.  For instance, I would have to be able to chat with my nephews and my mom all at the same time.  And clearly, there is a very good feature to have for enterprise.

Another feature I like FaceTime to have is maybe just the ability to chat via voice.  Call it VoiceTime.  Skype can do all three of the most common communications for mobile:  instant messages, voice, and video.

So, Apple has some work to do in this regard. FaceTime needs more features.  And Apple needs to make its communications tools more like Skype in terms of features and integration. Furthermore, Apple should make FaceTime and Message more open for social media integration.  And by social, I mean allow apps access to voice chat or messaging.

Imagine if you’re editing a doc or blowing away aliens, you can initate or answer calls or messages without having to leave whatever you’re doing.

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