MiFi takes 3G signals and gives you a WiFi connection. FaceTime works on WiFi because it needs the bigger bandwidth. Well, it turns out FaceTime works using MiFi, but barely. Videos of the attempts can be found onÂ Engadget.Â What this means to me is with a bit more tweaking of 3G network throughput (reliability too!) and a bit more ingenuity injected into better video compression we could possible see FaceTime become available on both WiFi and 3G soon.
There is an article on kottke.org with interesting quotes from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (Amazon) related to the initial popularity of videophones and then the rapid fallout. The reasons for excitement over video phone calls are many. What resonates with me is the ability to see the faces of loved ones when you are away from them. Of course if you simply wanted to chat via video there were many options available to you before Apple’s FaceTime was introduced, but not something that worked well on a smartphone. In the book, Wallace points to three reasons why people switched back to voice: emotional stress, physical vanity, and “a certain queer kind of self-obliterating logic in the microeconomics of consumer high-tech.” A video call will demand more from us in terms of attention and appearance and some will be stressed out because of it.