Remember FaceTime? It was that exiting new Skype video challenger from Apple. For iPhone and Mac users, FaceTime was the video call cat’s meow. Except, ow. What happened?
Yes, FaceTime works OK. The video and audio quality are quite good, even iPhone to iPhone. But no Windows version. No 3G capable version. No open source, freely-available-on-other-devices version. For now, video calling is owned by Skype.
Skype: Not That Good, But Better
We have family members scatter all over the world. Europe. South America. US. And friends are scattered north and south of the border and in Asia. So, the Kayhill household likes Skype.
Yes, almost all our family and friends are Mac users and iPhone users and FaceTime users.
In some respects, FaceTime works better, but not so much in the areas that count the most. Connectivity and ubiquity.
Your mileage may vary, but, generally speaking Skype video calling quality is not FaceTime quality. Score one for FaceTime. But FaceTime does HD, right? The latest version of Skype for Mac does HD, too.
Skype is everywhere that FaceTime is not. Mac. Windows PC. iPhone, iPad, Android devices. And Skype even works on 3G, so you can use it in the car or on the beach or in the backyard where Wi-Fi is a total no-go.
Skype’s feature list is compelling. Skype-to-Skype. Skype to phones and cell phones and text messaging. Skype voicemail. Skype forwarding. FaceTime has none of that.
Apple promised, and so far has not delivered, FaceTime for other devices. With better connectivity options and total ubiquity, thats leaves Skype as the undisputed leader in video calling, while Apple dawdles around trying to figure out what to do with FaceTime besides some very classy television commercials.
Skype does group calls, group screen sharing (with the Premium option), while Apple leaves Mac users with an outdated iChat and a FaceTime app that’s going no place faster than a Google rant on patents.
Skype shows up in business, on network television, and on your mom’s PC. Of course, there is a downside to Skype. It’s now owned by Microsoft and we know how well that’s worked out for other Microsoft purchases.
There are some commonalities between the two. Just like iChat or FaceTime, every time I use Skype I feel it could be for the last time, as Microsoft is prone to do something dumb, like drop the Mac version, or forget to pay their phone bills, while Apple leaves behind the old technology and heads off toward the next great thing, leaving frustrated users in the lurch.
I’m not complaining. It’s just a side effect to the Apple Tax. For now, Skype rules.