October 22, 2010
FaceTime for Mac Beta Review
The idea of FaceTime for Mac is a great one: Video chat with your friends and family, no matter where they are or where you are, if you’ve got an internet connection and they’ve got a new iPod Touch or iPhone. You’re always connected, face to face, in a way that people (here in the US at least) never have been before. That being said, Apple released FaceTime for Mac as a beta application, and it really shows.
Within the first 24 hours of FaceTime’s release, a huge security flaw became apparent. Initially, this one (huge) problem would have basically ran this review into the ground, as it was pretty much a show-stopper. Now though, less than 48 hours after the release of FaceTime, the problem has been fixed, and remember, it’s beta. So for a beta product to a have a flaw, even in security, fixed this quickly by a huge company, is pretty awesome. That being said, my review is going to basically ignore that flaw, as its fixed, and can now with certainty be chalked up to the app’s beta status.
Unfortunately though, that was not the only thing that made it obvious that FaceTime for Mac is still in beta. The first thing you’ll notice is that when you open FaceTime for the first time, it pulls in all your contacts from the Address Book application. This would be great if I ever used Address Book, ever. But I don’t. I use Gmail and an Android phone. Now I did eventually find out how to sync my Gmail and Address Book contacts, but now I’ve got around 900 contacts in my FaceTime Contact list, about 3 of which I think have phones or iPods or Macs with FaceTime. They need to add, automatically from Address Book, only your contacts who’s phone number or email address has already been attached to a FaceTime account.
Additionally, for some reason, there is exactly zero integration with any other services. Apple better add this in before the fast-expanding Yahoo! Messenger or Skype eat’s its lunch. There is no reason that, in order to video chat with my AIM friends, Skype friends, and iPhone/iPod Touch wielding friends, I should have to have 3 different applications open. It’s insane. Put this stuff together and make it simple already! Europe and Asia have had platform independent (meaning you can chat from your cell phone, PC, or Mac, with anyone on any of those platforms at any time) video chatting for years, so catch up!
Of course, this is beta, and changes will be made, but we need to see some major changes for FaceTime to really dominate the video chat market, if that’s what Apple wants. Frankly though, iPhone and Mac users deserve more regardless, and hopefully we’ll continue to see quick updates like we did with the security one!
What do you think of FaceTime? Will video chat in general continue to grow, or is it just a gimmick? Let us know below!