Following the hardly earth-shattering but welcome news that the fourth-generation iPhone will feature a front-facing camera, there's some further hints as to the uses Apple has in mind for the camera in the iPhone OS 4 Beta 2 SDK, which was released last week. Video conferencing - possibly integrated with Apple's upcoming Game Center service - is, of course, on tap. Less welcome is the suggestion that video chatting will be supported over WiFi only, not over 3G data connections, and code snippets that indicate a device must be "registered" in order for video conferencing to be enabled.
MacRumors dug through files in the SDK distribution and turned up a number of interesting status and error messages, all discussing "video conferencing" and "video calls." The error messages describing how dropped calls and misaddressed conferences would be handled give the clearest picture yet of how Apple intends to support video communications on devices with the hardware to handle it. First, as the ACCOUNTNOTREGISTEREDMESSAGE string contains “This device has not been registered for video conferencing,” it appears that Apple will require a separate account - possibly with a service fee - to make use of the feature. And the "could not connect" and "disconnected" error strings contain only references to WiFi:
IMAVCHATCOULDNOTCONNECTNOREMOTEWIFI = “The video call could not connect because a remote Wi-Fi connection could not be established.”; IMAVCHATDISCONNECTEDNOLOCAL_WIFI = “The video call disconnected because the local Wi-Fi connection was lost.”;
Apple's recently-announced Game Center service will, however, apparently support some kind of video communication features, as there are a raft of IMAV identifiers used for various error strings such as:
IMAVCHATERRORNOSUCHPLAYERID = “No Such Player ID”; IMAVCHATERRORNOSUCHACHIEVEMENT = “No Such Achievement”; IMAVCHATERRORUNRECOGNIZEDGAMEDESCRIPTIONHEADERS = “Unrecognised Game Descriptor Headers”; IMAVCHATERRORNOSUCHGAME = “No Such Game”;
image via MacRumors