Video calling and front-facing camera for future iPhone/iPad?

Published: February 24, 2010

iPhone users waiting and wondering when vid chat might be possible on their handsets will want to take note: 9to5Mac has some pretty compelling evidence that this might be exactly what’s in store for us. This isn’t just for the iPhones either — looks like iPads may be getting some video love in the future too.

When 9to5Mac picked apart the 3.2 iPhone SDK, it found some interesting things. First, a set of icons, filenames and VideoChat strings have been discovered that have sent the blogs buzzing. (One of the icons look like it’s meant to accept vid calls, the other to end calls.) What do you think? Do these look to you like pretty definitive evidence that the feature is at least in the works for iPhone OS users?

The site also found what looks an interface that the iPad could’ve used for rejecting or accepting vid calls. (Looks like these particular ones were intended for the iPad, since the buttons are clearly too huge for the iPhone.)

Now there’s no way video calling could work without a camera on the front of the device. (Or maybe it could work, but that would be really ridiculously inconvenient.) So if these suggest what I think — and hope — it does, then I also wonder if it could mean some hardware tweaks are on the menu as well. The SDK also contains references to a “hasFrontCamera” variable. Does this mean the iPhone’s get a new front-facing camera? And will the iPad be getting a camera of any kind at all? The possibilities are intriguing.

Enter UK’s The Register, to pop the balloons in my parade: The site posits the theory that even though there may have been software support for it, the hardware design that would’ve made it possible got nixed. So these, it imagines, are just remaining vestiges of an idea that hit the trash can. On the plus side, even if this were true, it looks like the things needed to make this a go are in place, including empty space on the enclosure for a cam and the software. So it seems like it’s just a matter of someone hitting that big “go” button in Cupertino’s headquarters.

MacRumors found some even more tantalizing tidbits in the latest Beta 3 iPad SDK: “We've been told that if you go digging into Apple's private framework which controls the camera, the iPad SDK tests for 3 additional camera characteristics that are not found in the iPhone 3.x SDK. For comparison, Erica Sadun has a code listing of iPhone 3.x PLCameraController.h on her site. The Beta 3 iPad SDK version adds these additional test conditions for the device's capabilities.”

Whoa, a zoom and flash for the camera? Well, that would certainly be new. (And about time! Honestly, I'm getting a little tired of my Android and BB friends making fun of my phone's camera :-P )

Some iPhone/iPad diehards would get Apple mobile devices, regardless of whatever updates are in the works. But for you fence-sitters out there, if any of these changes actually pan out, would they be enough to tip the scales for you? If not, what changes would you want to see before picking one up? If I were making a wish list, I'd start with multitasking and Flash support, but that's just me. To see what are on others' wish lists, click here.

Via: The Register, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, MacDailyNews

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