FaceTime may be coming to 3G soon, according to awry error message

It's been possible thanks to a jailbreak tweak for some time -- so we knew it worked -- but Apple still hasn't given FaceTime the blessing to work over 3G. But now it looks like Apple is about to let users FaceTime over 3G (or 4G), though, with an error message giving away the secret.

The message (pictured above) is new to iOS 5.1, and has only been discovered for the first time this week, despite iOS 5.1 being out for a few weeks now.

The Verge reports that if you try to disable 3G whilst on a FaceTime call, the iPhone will show an error that warns; "Disabling 3G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 3G?" Right now, pressing disable does nothing, because calls only work over WiFi. Additionally, if you enable 3G again whilst on a call, it warns "Enabling 3G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 3G?"

Back in 2010, when FaceTime was announced, Steve Jobs stated "[Apple] needs to work a little bit with the cellular providers to get ready for the future." It seems like that future is now, and that could be an iPhone with 4G LTE.

With WWDC now under two weeks away, it seems like Apple is about to flip the switch and let users FaceTime regardless of connection type.

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11 Comments

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I think carriers should be legally obliged to remove set price-bandwidth restrictions on data plans so users could stop worrying from going over in data charges.

I'm in Canada so as of now there is not mobile plan with unlimited data. It is a sham.

I'm probably in the minority, but I think this is a bad idea.
With the changes in plans that are no longer providing unlimited data, this is a time bomb waiting to go off. It's likely that it'd be marketed as fast and cool, without explaining the traffic costs in a manner that the average mom can understand.

I'm not knocking Facetime, more so the con artist networks.

muzzle79 said,
I'm probably in the minority, but I think this is a bad idea.
With the changes in plans that are no longer providing unlimited data, this is a time bomb waiting to go off. It's likely that it'd be marketed as fast and cool, without explaining the traffic costs in a manner that the average mom can understand.

I'm not knocking Facetime, more so the con artist networks.

Networks have been putting in ridiculous caps hiding behind the "Most users wont use xGB except for Pirates" line. The more people start getting hammered on legitimate use the more people will start voting with heir feet which means competition drives data costs down.

Although this wont be easy everywhere company's at some point have to listen and meet their customers demands.

I don't believe it. Siri also worked perfectly on pre 4s phones and they didn't do it. They used it as a marketing tool to get people to upgrade to the 4s. Why would Apple decide to let Facetime work on a 3G network when they can push people to buy the nextgen iPhone with 4G LTE by advertising Facetime on it.

Back in 2010, when FaceTime was announced, Steve Jobs stated "[Apple] needs to work a little bit with the cellular providers to get ready for the future."

He also said FaceTime would be submitted to a standards body so people could implement it on other platforms. We know that has not happened.

nohone said,

He also said FaceTime would be submitted to a standards body so people could implement it on other platforms. We know that has not happened.

I don't remember he said that. I don't think it'll be an easy job to accomplish this, since it uses the addressbook structure of iOS and is very integrated with te OS.

Dannydeman said,

I don't remember he said that. I don't think it'll be an easy job to accomplish this, since it uses the addressbook structure of iOS and is very integrated with te OS.

Well, he certainly did.

“And we're going to take it all the way. We're going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we're going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.”
- Steve Jobs, 2010 WWDC Keynote

Source: http://zachholman.com/posts/steve-jobs-sometimes-lies/

Dannydeman said,
I don't remember he said that. I don't think it'll be an easy job to accomplish this, since it uses the addressbook structure of iOS and is very integrated with te OS.
That's an implementation detail that is irrelevant to a communication protocol. I have been incredibly annoyed that it never became a standard, and it's because of that that it is a useless feature.

That and its inability to handle low bandwidth situations well. When talking with my girlfriend while she was overseas a year ago (all she had was an iPad on a short trip), I tried using FaceTime, but we gave up and switched to Skype because FaceTime had such bad performance. Skype is significantly better.

pickypg said,
That's an implementation detail that is irrelevant to a communication protocol. I have been incredibly annoyed that it never became a standard, and it's because of that that it is a useless feature.

That and its inability to handle low bandwidth situations well. When talking with my girlfriend while she was overseas a year ago (all she had was an iPad on a short trip), I tried using FaceTime, but we gave up and switched to Skype because FaceTime had such bad performance. Skype is significantly better.

Maybe it will finally become an open standard? And they've been working on getting the spec right (fixing the bandwidth limitations you mentioned). Now would be the time before Skype skyrockets with Windows and WP

DomZ said,
Maybe it will finally become an open standard? And they've been working on getting the spec right (fixing the bandwidth limitations you mentioned). Now would be the time before Skype skyrockets with Windows and WP
That's a fair point, particularly because they have it ubiquitous across practically every Apple device: their computers and the iPod touch, iPad and iPhone. However, the inward looking nature of Apple makes me think this is unlikely, at least in any meaningful way. By that I mean that I could see them publish the standard to steal thunder from Microsoft's WP8 announcement this summer, but never really push it except to say that "everyone else could implement it, and it's their fault that they don't."

I guess we'll have to wait and see, but even with iOS 6, I don't expect it to improve in any meaningful way.