updated 10:50 am EDT, Sun April 11, 2010
iPhone may have video-capable iChat
Further clues have been found in the initial iPhone 4.0 beta that Apple will have not just video chat on the next iPhone but also a full-fledged iChat app. Frameworks and strings show many explicit references to "video conference" calls as well as chat rooms, moderation and other features that apply to both text and video. Many of iChat's alert sounds from the Mac app have also been included in the code.
Both the code and a separate tip to 9to5Mac have also referenced an Apple-run site that, along with three internal sites, are likely being used to host and test video on the iPhone. An unconfirmed but thorough insider maintained that the site is waiting for a "jingle" from the iChat app itself to initialize the feature; without information about the app's presence and connection quality it won't do anything, he said.
Any absence of the iChat app in the iPhone 4.0 beta is likely due to its requiring and consequently revealing hardware plans, which may well include a front video camera. The company took a similar approach with iPhone 3.0 as it kept Compass and Voice Control out of pre-release versions of the OS until the iPhone 3GS was in public hands.
The apparent confirmation of the app gives Apple a possible edge over other smartphone platforms in its instant messaging support. Many platforms, including BlackBerry, webOS and Windows Mobile, already have some form of official IM client. Virtually none of these, however, support audio or video themselves. Video calling has existed on phones for years but has usually depended on the traditional 3G cellular system rather than an Internet connection and has usually been low quality, often going to resolutions as low as 160x120. Most higher-quality services depend on third-party apps.