What Is FaceTime?

FaceTime is not something new to the iPad 2, although the new iPad is the first model that can actually use it, thanks to the new on-board front- and rear-facing cameras. FaceTime was actually created for the iPhone 4 in the summer of 2010, the first device from Apple to feature a dual-camera setup. It’s this double-camera configuration that makes FaceTime work so well. Until recently, most mobile devices, when they had a camera, used a photo/video capture lens that was located on the back of the device—in other words, the side of the device that was on the opposite side of the device’s video screen. Think about a two-video call, and you can quickly imagine such a situation becoming very awkward, very quickly.

With the iPhone 4, and now the iPad 2, FaceTime can enable you and your kids to easily engage in video calls with any FaceTime-enabled device in the world.

But in that statement alone, there are hidden limitations. Note that connectivity is limited to other FaceTime-equipped devices. Right now, that includes all iPad 2 devices, any iPhone 4 (and beyond), fourth-generation iPod Touch devices, and any desktop or laptop with Mac OS X 10.6.6 or higher, so we’re not exactly talking about a small user base.

Still, as of press time, Windows and Linux users were not able to use FaceTime, and don’t look for FaceTime on the Android mobile platform anytime soon, either, given the animosity between Apple and Google over their respective mobile platforms.

This means that as you seek out possible connections for your student, you will need to deliberately search for other students and classrooms that have the correct devices.

Another, perhaps more well-known, limitation is the inability for FaceTime devices to send their signals over any cellular network. This is likely due to the sheer amount of data each video call creates: upwards of 3MB per minute. That number may seem a bit abstract, but think about your own cellular data plan and any financial caps that might exist with it, and you will quickly see why pushing a FaceTime call of any significant length could be a very expensive proposition.

That expense is incurred by the cellular carriers, too. Increasingly, data carriers in North America, Asia, and Europe are learning that unlimited data plans will quickly jam their networks with traffic, and they have taken great pains to limit data traffic to keep their networks clear. This is why, to date, Apple has been unable to negotiate a plan with any cellular carrier.

The result of this behind-the-scenes technical discussion means that anyone who is using FaceTime must connect over a wireless network (or, for Mac users, a wired Ethernet connection will also work). This WiFi-only limitation has gotten quite a bit of knocking in the media, but to be honest, even 3G iPad owners can typically find a wireless network somewhere. Your student, too, is more likely to be at home or school, where such WiFi networks are common.

The good news is, once you find such a network, it is very simple to set up a FaceTime connection. But first, you need to configure FaceTime to be ready to receive and send calls.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

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