Will iPhone video calls leapfrog Android? (Updated)

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?
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

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.

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