Did Apple Accidentally Announce FaceTime Over 3G Wireless?
May 21, 2012

Did Apple Accidentally Announce FaceTime Over 3G?

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com

When Apple introduced their wildly popular and best-selling iPhone 4 in 2010, one of the most-touted features was FaceTime, a video conferencing service which utilized the front-facing camera on the phone. Such a feature had been clamored for and even widely predicted to appear on the device.

Though incredibly easy to use, the feature can only be used when both parties are logged into a Wi-Fi network. Though this decision undoubtedly made the carriers happy, users were disappointed the service was tethered to a Wi-Fi connection.

Now, hints have arisen which suggest Apple might begin to support 3G wireless data.

As reported on Friday by Gizmodo, Romanian Apple website iDevice first noticed the new hints towards 3G capability in the new iOS 5.1.1.

Whenever a FaceTime call is active over a regular Wi-Fi network and a user turns off the “enable 3G” option in the settings app, an error message pops up which reads “Disabling 3G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 3G?”

Though the error message warns the FaceTime session could end if 3G is turned off, the session continues, suggesting Apple may be bringing 3G FaceTime support in their newest version of iOS.

AppleInsider tested the error even further and found that no matter how the user flips the 3G switch – either to disable or enable – the FaceTime call continues uninterrupted.

After its 2010 roll out, FaceTime has now been baked into iPads, iPod Touches and Macs, as it came baked into Lion.

When the video chat service was launched, Steve Jobs explained it didn´t work on mobile networks at the request of the mobile carriers.

Jobs had hoped to “work a little bit with the cellular providers” to bring FaceTime to 3G and possibly 4G networks.

As noted by AppleInsider, should Apple flip the switch and allow users to chat over 3G networks, the carriers could still choose to restrict the functionality, much in the same way AT&T blocked tethering when it was enabled on iPhones with iOS 3.0

This development is just one more drop to the rising, rushing river of iPhone rumors building up before an impending announcement.

Apple is also widely expected to announce 4G LTE wireless compatibility on the new iPhone, though mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon are reportedly moving away from any kind of unlimited data plan when and if these 4G phones are released into the wild.

Sprint, however has announced they will continue to offer unlimited data, even if Apple does release a 4G iPhone.

In addition to possible 3G FaceTime compatibility and 4G LTE connectivity, the new iPhone is widely expected to boast a 4-inch screen, new design and could be available this fall.