I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

FaceTime adoption

Dan Moren, for Macworld, doubts FaceTime’s usefulness:

Honestly, the real question isn’t whether or not the iPod touch will get support for FaceTime, but whether or not the touch’s adoption of the technology will actually bolster FaceTime’s usefulness and popularity.

With a few exceptions, FaceTime seems to largely be confined to the realm of novelty at present. I’ve used the feature a handful of times myself, but mainly for the sake of trying it out.

I’ve used FaceTime once, with my wife while she was out of town. It was great. But most of the time, I don’t use it. This is largely for two reasons:

  1. For any given call, the likelihood that the person on the other end has an iPhone 4 and that we’re both on Wi-Fi is low. This problem will probably solve itself over the next two years.
  2. I forget I can do it. This one’s more interesting.

When iPhone OS 3.0 was released a year ago, it took me a while to reliably remember that I could copy and paste. I’d still transfer data between apps as if I couldn’t, using the old workarounds that I had grown accustomed to.

Now, a few months after iOS 4, I still barely multitask at all because I usually forget that I can — sure, the phone is doing it for me, but I still use apps as if they don’t multitask, again using the old workarounds.

With every new iPhone1 hardware or software release, we get a bunch of new capabilities. But because we grew accustomed to our iPhones’ prior feature-sets as the limits of what the platform was at the time we got to know the platform, we often forget about or completely miss new functionality that arrived afterward.

For instance, did you know that iOS 4 added Bluetooth-keyboard support? Do you still avoid Apple’s Notes app because you think it doesn’t sync your notes? Do you ever use shake-to-undo? Did you know that you can send someone a Contact over SMS? Have you ever written down a phone number from another app onto a piece of paper, then switched to Phone to dial it while referring to the paper, because you didn’t know that you can Paste into the Phone dialer?

We, the long-time iPhone owners, won’t be the first ones to use FaceTime regularly.

But the next generation of iPhone owners will.

FaceTime is the sort of technology that we “old” people will promptly forget that we can do, and then be shocked when we learn that young people are doing it en masse.

They don’t know that iPhones (or just phones, for that matter) can’t do video chat. Because theirs can. Young people and first-time mobile-phone owners pioneered mass usage of SMS while the old people were making fun of slowly typing poorly spelled messages on a device that allowed you to just call the person with far less perceived effort. Then the young people started sending around MMS pictures while we made fun of crappy phone cameras.

I eventually came around to SMS and MMS. You probably did, too. And I bet we’ll all come around to FaceTime in a few years when the from-this-point-forward iPhone buyers remind us that it’s great.

  1. This applies to many technologies. But I’ll keep this post iPhone-specific. ↩︎