Video Conferencing Using FaceTime On Your iPhone 4 or iPad 2
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With the introduction of a front- and back-facing camera built into the Apple iPhone 4 and iPad 2, real-time video conferencing using the FaceTime app and the Internet has become a viable way for people to be seenas well as heardwhenever they communicate.
Using FaceTime for Video Conferencing While on the Go
There are several benefits to using FaceTime to communicate with others. First, there's no charge whatsoever to use this app. FaceTime does not use up any of your AT&T Wireless or Verizon plan's minutes or wireless data usage. Plus, you're able to see and hear the person you're communicating with.
As long as a Wi-Fi connection is available (a 3G Internet connection won't work), FaceTime allows for video conferencing with other iPhone 4, iPad 2, and Mac users. Yes, an iPhone 4 user can communicate via FaceTime with an iPad 2 user or Mac user (or vice versa), as long as everyone has the free FaceTime app or software.
The FaceTime app comes preinstalled on all iPhone 4 and iPad 2 units. On the iPad or Mac, the first time you launch this app, you'll need to set up a free FaceTime account and assign a FaceTime ID to yourself, which can be either your Apple ID or an email address that you link with this app.
If you're using FaceTime on your iPhone 4, the setup procedure is automatic. The app is integrated into the phone and Contacts app. However, using the iPhone 4's Settings app, tap on the Phone option, and make sure FaceTime is turned on. On the iPhone 4, your FaceTime ID is your mobile phone number. Your FaceTime ID is how others will be able to initiate a video conference call with you.
To initiate a FaceTime call on your iPhone, find the person you're calling using the Contacts app, scroll down within their entry, and tap on the FaceTime icon. Next, tap on the FaceTime phone number or email address for that person, based on where the FaceTime icon appears. A FaceTime connection (or "call") will be initiated.
The trickiest part of using FaceTime is figuring out the FaceTime phone number, Apple ID, or email address associated with someone else's FaceTime account and then making that initial connection. After that, you'll be able to connect with a single tap on the screen.
When using FaceTime on an iPad 2 or Mac, it is necessary to launch the FaceTime app and sign in before you'll be able to initiate or receive FaceTime calls. As long as you're within a Wi-Fi hotspot, this is not necessary using an iPhone 4.
On the iPad, within the lower-right corner of the app are three command icons, labeled Favorites, Recents, and Contacts. Use one of these command options to initiate a FaceTime call.
- Favorites is used to maintain a list of people with whom you frequently video conference and, in essence, allows for one-touch speed dialing to those people.
- Recents is a log of past incoming and outgoing FaceTime calls. You can tap on any of the people listed under Recents to reinitiate a FaceTime connection with one tap.
- Contacts allows you to select from contact entries stored within the Contacts app. It's important when creating Contacts entries that you differentiate between a Mobile Phone Number and an iPhone Phone Number. FaceTime will automatically use someone's iPhone Phone Number listing within your Contacts database as a FaceTime username, unless you assign that person's email address to be their FaceTime ID.
If you're "calling" a FaceTime user who is using an iPad 2 or Mac, you'll need to know their email address or FaceTime ID, as opposed to their iPhone 4's phone number.
As soon as you initiate a FaceTime connection, the message "FaceTime with" and the person's name will be displayed on the screen. You'll also see a Call End icon displayed, which you can tap any time to close the connection and end the FaceTime call.
If the person you're calling with FaceTime answers, your own video image will shrink on your iPhone or iPad display and become a smaller thumbnail image, while at the same time, the person you're connecting with will appear, utilizing almost the entire screen of your phone or tablet.
Once a FaceTime call is underway, you'll see three command icons on the screen, including a Mute button, the Call End icon, and a Switch Camera icon. During a conversation, tap the Mute button to shut down the microphone of your iPhone or iPad, allowing the person you are video conferencing with to see you, but not hear you.
At anytime, tap the Call End icon to close the FaceTime connection. Or, during a FaceTime call, tap on the Switch Camera icon on your iPhone or iPad, to switch between the front and rear-facing camera. During a call, you can hold your wireless device either horizontally or vertically.
Ideally, when using FaceTime, the image you transmit will be more stable if you hold the iPhone or iPad steady. The best way to accomplish this is to use an optional stand and place your phone or tablet on a flat surface, propped up at an angle suitable for capturing you on-camera as you talk. For the iPhone 4, there are a handful of stands that work well. For the iPad 2, an Apple Smart Cover, positioned as a stand, is ideal for this purpose.
Other Options for Communicating Using Your iPhone or iPad
Instead of using up the minutes on your voice plan, you can use the Skype app to initiate or receive voice-over-IP calls between your iPhone (or iPad) and a landline or another Skype user.
Skype allows for voice-only calls or video conferencing. It's a free app that's available from the App Store (http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-mobile/download/iphone-for-skype). One of the best uses for Skype is when you travel overseas because this app allows you to make and receive calls without being charged exorbitant international roaming fees. You'll find Wi-Fi available at many hotels, Internet cafes, airports, and other locations abroad with which Skype can be used.
Skype-to-Skype calls are always free. Using Skype to call a landline costs just pennies per minute, which is a lot more affordable than paying $1.99 per minute or more to initiate a regular call from overseas on your iPhone. For a low monthly fee, you can also obtain your own Skype phone number, which includes voice mail and many other calling features.
As long as you have a strong Internet connection, the call quality using Skype will typically be superb, and the app is as straightforward to use as initiating or answering a regular call on your iPhone. Skype works on all iPhone and iPad models, and can be used with a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. Your phone or tablet's built-in speaker, microphone, and/or camera are used to communicate.
Keep in mind that if you use Skype with a 3G connection, it will utilize some of your allocated monthly data usage included with your AT&T Wireless or Verizon wireless data plan. Or if you're traveling overseas and use Skype with a 3G connection while roaming on another 3G wireless data network, the cost for that data usage will be astronomical. So while overseas, use Skype exclusively with a free Wi-Fi Internet connection and turn off international data roaming.
To turn off wireless data roaming while overseas, access the Setup app and tap on the General option. Next, tap on the Network option, and turn off the Data Roaming feature.