Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android? (Updated)

Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android? (Updated)

Summary: Apple is expected to launch iPhone video calling at WWDC in two weeks, but is it enough to close the gap on Android 2.2?


apple-video-2Anyone reading this blog knows where I stand on the Android vs. iPhone issue. I'm squarely in the Android camp.

But it isn't a case of my jumping on the Android bandwagon because of last week's announcement of version 2.2 (a.k.a. "Froyo"), quite the contrary. I've been advocating Android for about a year -- despite carrying an iPhone since the day it was announced in 2007.

Naturally my Android endorsements upset Apple loyalists who think that I'm: a) a traitor, b) being paid by Google, or c) caught up in feature warfare, or "bullets on the box" as it's sometimes referred. The reality is that Android has simply been the better mobile OS for a while now and, as I've blogged here before, I call 'em like I see 'em.

Apple has announced that Steve Jobs will be giving the keynote address at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference on June 7, 2010 and The Steve is already swiping back at Google, with his now-famous, one-liner emails. When queried if Google has leapfrogged the iPhone OS, Jobs replied "not a chance," and when asked if Apple would blow Google out of the water when WWDC opens, Jobs emailed "you won't be disappointed."

Since current developer builds of iPhone OS 4.0 only address 2 out of the 12 reasons why I think that Android 2.1 is better (multitasking and unified inbox) I've been racking my brain as to what Apple can possibly do to take the lead back from Android. Then it hit me -- video conferencing. Leaks of the next-generation iPhone hardware clearly show a forward-facing camera (actually twin 5MP sensors by LG Innotek) and screen shots from the field test firmware (pictured) allegedly show settings for video calls debugging.

Video conferencing, video chat, iChat -- whatever you want to call it -- will be a compelling feature if/when it arrives in the new iPhone because it will be the first domestic device to have it. Others have failed in their pursuit of the elusive video call. AT&T’s one-way Video Share service never caught one with consumers and although the Saygus VPhone was to be the first mobile phone on a U.S. carrier with 2-way video calling capability, it still isn't shipping.

Is video calling enough for the iPhone OS to leapfrog Android? Tell us why in the TalkBack.

Update: The Sprint Evo 4G is the first domestic phone with true 2-way video calling (courtesy of launch partner Qik). It doesn't ship until June 4, 2010, but free handsets were given to attendees of last week's Google IO conference.

Topics: Browser, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • HTC EVO 4G

    Won't the EVO 4G be the 1st domestic device with a video conferencing front facing camera?
    • july

      @philauboi <br>evo, probably july<br>new iphone, probably end of june.
      banned from zdnet
      • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?

        Actually the EVO 4G is launching June 4th, one week from Friday.
      • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?

        @banned from zdnet

        Get your facts straight and your mouth off Steve Jobs' a-hole.
    • That depends on your definition of domestic.


      HTC is Taiwanese. The iPhones are manufactured in China.

      If on the other hand, you mean something you can buy here in the US, then my Nokia N79 has beaten them both by a year.
  • Just what we need.

    More distractions for Drivers.

    "I'm sorry officer, I didn't see the red light because my mistress was showing me her goodies."
    • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?

      Gives a whole new meaning to phone s-e-x
  • reality?

    "The reality is that Android has simply been the better mobile OS"

    wow, that's an argument! welcome to zdnet.
    banned from zdnet
    • Maybe.......

      @banned from zdnet
      You could do some more reading and get the reasons why. No need to re-hash everything so you will be happy with the article. I sense you are upset about his conclusions?
    • No, it's a conclusion, which is REACHED by an argument.

      For somebody not to know that, they must've failed English class.

      Thus, you failed English class.
  • Video chats can be critical

    I've been wanting the benefits of mobile iChat for some time. On both the iPhone and iPad this breaks down the huge costs of using your phone overseas for calls. Simple "call" from a hot spot for free.

    When the dust settles on this one I can see it added to the iPad.
    • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?


      How? The iPad doesn't have a forward facing camera.
      • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?

        The camera socket is right there in the frame. And the video-handling hooks are in the software.

        Expect to see the camera in iPad 2.0
  • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?

    Do you think Android is better based upon feature set, user experience, or some other reason? Let's define "better." I see a combination of the two on your 12 points, but which weighs heavier in your opinion?
    • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?


      Android is better based on feature set, but many of those are power user features.

      User experience is a tough one because it's subjective and based on an individual's experience and comfort level with mobile phones. For example, I think that the user experience on the Android is equivalent to that on the iPhone, but novice users (like my parents, for example) would find the user experience on the iPhone to be superior because its simpler and easier to use.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
    • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?


      Desktop widgets and never having to plug into a computer, ever, are plenty. All the other superior features of Android are just frosting.
  • Video Conferencing on the go. That's old news.

    The Samsung Q1U has had that via Skype for about 2 and a half years now. Admittly, It's not a svelt as an iPhone, but it has both forward and rearward facing cameras, 60 gig storage, a full OS which runs full versions of software and I can get about 6 hours contineous use on the battery. So when you look at it. UMPCs have been doing this for a long time.
  • The problem with inverters...

    @banned from zdnet

    Have you read my previous posts on the topic?
    There are *at least* 20 ways that Android beats iPhone OS. I've linked to them all.

    What, specifically, if your argument for the iPhone?

    - Jason
    Jason D. O'Grady
  • what apple can do for pocket videoconferencing

    make it commonplace. just something a phone can do.

    various recent talks w/ team android show -- i think -- a little too casual attitude toward users' hardware investment, and part of the reason is google 'reserves the right' to buy features that turn the hardware requirements in a new direction.

    in a way, they're leaving it to apple to spec the hardware. maybe that sounds wrong but let's look at two cases.

    1) apple adds ichat video conferencing to iphone. every iphone from now on can be reached via [supported protocols, probably including skype], with discoverable video availability status.

    2) google adds videoconferencing. some android phones have it, some don't. some support multi-party (how could the iphone not do this?), some don't. etc etc etc. it doesn't become an expectation.

    apple has authority.

    (also while we're having fun, remember that screen sharing is part of ichat.)
  • RE: Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android?

    As great as video chats will be, it will probably be limited to wifi-only. And if not, it will probably have limited usefulness as AT&T 3G network is pathetic.