Apple‘s iPhone 4 is pretty well-covered at this point–check out our hands-on and an early review–but some aspects of the new device won’t be cleared up until it’s in the hands of customers. We’ve just gotten some clarification on FaceTime, the somewhat groaningly named new video chat feature.
The confusion over whether FaceTime will count against minutes is due to the nature of the app. While FaceTime is Wi-Fi only for now (for the sake of AT&T’s poor, overworked 3G network), it can be initiated in the actual voice app. You select a contact and then hit FaceTime, all from within the voice chat app.
Apple clarified to BusinessInsider that regardless of how it’s used, FaceTime won’t count against your minutes. Says an Apple rep:
“The voice call ends as soon as the FaceTime call connects. The FaceTime call is over Wi-Fi so does not use carrier minutes.”
Of course, there would be an outrage if AT&T decided to charge its customers for using a Wi-Fi network based on that kind of technicality, but now at least we don’t have to worry about it.
If and when FaceTime is available to use over a 3G or 4G network, it will presumably count against minutes. But how much? It uses far more bandwidth than a voice call, after all. That’s a question for a future iPhone generation. For now, video chat all you want. It’s free!