Video conferencing coming to iPhone?

Video conferencing coming to iPhone?

Summary: Notice the video recording button in this iPhone patent.Remember around WWDC in June 2008 when the hottest rumor was that the next iPhone would ship with a forward-facing video camera that could be used for video conferencing?

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Notice the video recording button in this iPhone patent.

Notice the video recording button in this iPhone patent.

Remember around WWDC in June 2008 when the hottest rumor was that the next iPhone would ship with a forward-facing video camera that could be used for video conferencing?

Pictures of Phil Schiller's WWDC iPhone allegedly showed the second camera, although that was later debunked as simply a grease mark. As it turns out, iPhone video conferencing may soon become a reality after all.

Information Week's Alexander Wolfe has been combing through one of Apple's iPhone patents (specifically number 7,479,949) and has come up with evidence that Apple plans to add video conferencing features to an upcoming iPhone.

Specifically, he points out this reference (emphasis mine):

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. Instructions for performing these functions may be included in a computer-readable storage medium or other computer program product configured for execution by one or more processors.

and this one:

In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the back of the device, opposite the touch screen display on the front of the device, so that the touch screen display may be used as a viewfinder for either still and/or video image acquisition. 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.

It's pretty clear that Apple has an interest in adding video conferencing hardware to the next iPhone and I wouldn't be surprised if the technology isn't already waiting in the wings. The issue probably has more to do with the widespread availability of reliable 3G data services and I bet that Apple is waiting for the AT&T network to catch up before unleashing iPhone video conferencing to the world.

I wouldn't be surprised to see video conferencing announced as part of the third iPhone hardware platform at WWDC 2009 this June. Just a hunch.

I'm interested to hear from non-iPhone owners: would video-conferencing entice you to buy an iPhone?

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Mobility

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8 comments
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  • Apple patenting video conferencing!!

    Is there no end to the innovation coming from this company!?!? Good thing for the world that Apple was the first to think about transmitting live video and audio from one device to another.
    NonZealot
    • Clearly

      Clearly that patent wasn't claiming that. Just as clearly you know next
      to nothing about patent applications or patent law. To be honest, your
      posts routinely make it plainly evident that you know next to nothing
      about nearly everything.
      SpiritusInMachina
  • "would video-conferencing entice you to buy an iPhone?"

    No...not even close.

    In order for Apple to entice me to purchase an iPhone, they need to change a few things.

    1. Have other carriers available...i.e. Verizon, etc. AT&T is useless where I live.

    2. Have a USER replaceable battery available. USD$85.95 for the privilege of letting Apple replace it is nuts. And I have to send the phone back to have this done, which leaves me without a phone. How convenient. And don't anyone tell me about all of these clip-on or plug-in battery packs for the iPhone. I've seen them, and they are ALL lousy designs and useless.

    3. ELIMINATE Apple's ability to kill my phone remotely if there is something on the phone, which I PAID FOR, that Stevie Boy is unhappy with. It's none of his GD business. If I lived in Russia, or China, I would expect that kind of attitude...not here in the US.

    4. Allow me to tether an iPhone via Bluetooth, or a data cable, to my laptop and PDA for 3g Internet access...as I can do now with my Verizon LG Voyager. I've been able to tether my cell phones to my laptops since I purchased my first Motorola StarTac! And that wasn't last week. The fact that this is not a standard feature is ridiculous.

    5. Have voice dialing an integral part of the phone. Why should I have to spend money for a 3rd party app for this feature? Virtually EVERY cell phone on the planet lets users do this. This omission is completely unacceptable.

    Do ALL these...and I might be interested...maybe.

    Mark-Twain
  • The Tytnic truth

    No I won't buy a video conferencing iPhone

    My Tytn II has been able to do that since I got it in Sept '07.

    Funny... I used said Tytn to find my way around Toronto, NY and Miami (TomTom) before the iDud 3G launched. I cut and paste with it and some other stuff too...

    Message to MS. Give us a decent interface!!!
    colin@...
  • PTT radio

    PTT radio, 1 way /2 way vide over 3G / wifi. Then we're talking.
    Throw in video recording decently first though.
    t0mt0m
  • RE: Video conferencing coming to iPhone?

    Video conferencing with other IPhone users is maybe the coolest idea ever for the IPhone and would probably be the only reason for me to upgrade.
    stevocanuck
  • NO FREAKING WAY

    Forget the Video conferencing! Do the cut and paste first then we'll talk.

    P.S. Yes, I know jailbreak can do C&P now. Shame on you Apple!
    Samic
  • RE: Video conferencing coming to iPhone?

    I have an iPhone 3G and I'm still going to pay
    whatever they want for the new iPhone. It's already so
    amazing, add Flash, cut and paste, MMS, and video conferencing, and it really will be the Jesus phone.
    pjskeleton