The Extraordinary Effects of FaceTime

FaceTime technology has been developing at a rapid rate ever since its inception in 2010, and it has helped change the world of communication as we know it.  People from all across the globe can easily have a near face to face interaction all with the click of a button.  People have described FaceTime as a “relationship saving technology” that quote came from a Medium.com article talking about how FaceTime helped preserve and grow a couple’s long distance relationship.  With all the great things FaceTime has done, a question still remains, what effects does this technology have on the actual users, and on certain fields?  FaceTime has had a huge impact on the communication field, but where, and how, and who, has documented it?

In the scholarly article entitled, “FaceTime for Physicians: Using Real Time Mobile Phone–Based Videoconferencing to Augment Diagnosis and Care in Telemedicine,” the iPhone and FaceTime are said to have a very big impact on the field of medicine and the people in the field of medicine.

This video shows how FaceTime helped a mother in labor deliver her baby successfully.

“As consumer technologies improve and the ubiquity of highly sophisticated and capable devices continue to penetrate into user population, the potential for these costly replacement model could be usurped.  Mobile computing and smartphone handsets, such as the latest iPhone 4 from Apple Inc, demonstrate the ability to mediate the conduction of tele-health service across hundreds or thousands of miles.  The further integration of mobile video conferencing will benefit patient care when successfully negotiating environmental and economic obstacles.”

This short excerpt shows just how large of an impact that the iPhone can have on a certain field.  With this ease of communication medical personnel all over the country to communicate much easier,  making the quality of patient care increase ten fold.  Another example of FaceTime having an effect on society and certain fields is that even when there are concerns about technology security, FaceTime was at the forefront of making sure that all information stayed private.

“Enabling factors of this kind are fairly unexplored and are potentially vulnerable to several drawbacks.5 Compromised quality, security, and versatility may prevent a solution, (212 ARMSTRONG ET AL) such as this, from being fully recognized in the ever evolving standard of care for diabetic foot complications. What is promising about the iPhone 4 and the release of “FaceTime” video calling service is the utilization of open industry standards. This adoption is a decidedly powerful element, which potentiates the previously mentioned challenges to be overcome with a significantly reduced cost of implementation. In current, the FaceTime augmentation to the phone application supports a number of open standards including H.264 video and advanced audio coding compression and decompression (Codec) standards, session initiating protocol, several network traversal solutions, and real-time multimedia encryption protocols.”

There has been research done about online communication technologies effecting users behavior in a positive and negative manner, not limited to FaceTime, the research also looks at other online video communications along with online communities of people.  In the scholarly article entitled, “Virtual empathy: Positive and negative impacts of going online upon empathy in young adults,” the authors look at how going online effects people’s empathy, as opposed to having a face to face interaction.

This was the basis of the study.  “People can show empathic responses to others online, but at the same time empathy has been declining in young people since technology-based communication has become prevalent. Displacement of face-to-face time by online activities would be expected to negatively impact empathic skills. Since there is little direct empirical research on this topic, the present study sought to determine the nature of the relationship between Internet usage and empathy.”

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This picture shows two friends making a FaceTime call and enjoying the face to face interaction. (pic via cnet1)

The results of the study done were as followed: “More than 1000 young adults completed an anonymous online questionnaire that asked about daily media usage, real-world empathy, virtual empathy, social support and demographic information. The results showed that, in general, going online had very small negative impacts upon cognitive and affective real-world empathy and actually improved time spent in face-to-face communication. Video gaming reduced real-world empathy in both females and males but did not reduce face-to-face time. Also, virtual empathy was positively correlated with real-world empathy, although virtual empathy scores were lower than real-world empathy scores for both sexes. Finally, both real-world empathy and virtual empathy are positively related to social support but real-world empathy demonstrated a 5–6 times stronger relationship. The findings show that spending time online does not displace face-to-face time nor reduce real-world empathy, and suggest that perhaps the lack of nonverbal cues in the online world contributes to overall lower levels of virtual empathy compared to the real world. The negative effects of being online upon empathy appear to be due to specific activities such as video gaming rather than total quantity of online time.”

This study is very important because it tested many different forms of online communication.  FaceTime, along with chat rooms and online forums such as Facebook, and even video games where users are speaking to each other through headsets from anywhere around the world, is used by so many people, and the effects are shown here.  So really only video games have been tied into the real negative qualities displayed by people online, which could be due in large part to the level of violence a majority of video games have.  FaceTime and other online communication however, still allow people to display empathy, not as strong as real world interaction, which is expected, but it still allows people to connect with one another in a way that displays positive behavior and communication.

FaceTime technology is again having a positive impact on the world of medicine, with iPads being in certain hospital rooms for the patients.  In the article entitled, “A Whole New Meaning to “Face Time” with Your Doctor,” Dr. Brian Remillard describes how the iPad video chat (FaceTime) technology helps benefit him, and his patients on a daily basis.

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This picture shows Dr. Remillard FaceTiming with a patient via an iPad. (pic via dartmouth-hitchcock)

“We initially used a large robotic unit for nephrology consults,” says Brian Remillard, MD, section chief of Nephrology and Hypertension. “Patients, particularly older ones, were scared of it. They kept looking behind it to see if we were in it. It came equipped with big base speakers on the bottom making it sound like a voice from on high. When we started to round with the iPads, patients really liked them.”

This software also allows doctors to interact with staff that is in the room, like nurses, and allowed Dr. Remillard to speak with clinicians in Haiti and help them learn new things about medicine that would ultimately be able to save more people in the country.

“The Kubi device allows any physician to control the iPad remotely, in three dimensions, in concert with the software “Vidyo.” This is the same software that Dr. Remillard uses to teleconference with Haiti (see related story). The software operates on a low bandwidth making it reliable in remote areas.”

This technology even helps the doctors avoid their own personal crisis’, “It’ll be great in bad weather,” says Remillard. “Both Tom and I have crashed our cars commuting to Lancaster for consults. Now when a blizzard strikes, we’ll be much more inclined to say ‘We’re going to make rounds by iPad today.’ It may even cut down on cancellations. “We have a lot of missed appointments because patients don’t want to travel two or three hours for a 10-minute visit.”

Patient care was largely improved by the institution of this technology, not only here in the United States, but across the globe.  With technology like FaceTime, people are benefitting all across the world when it comes to medicine, making our society and others much better.

FaceTime is a technology that has been widely accepted around the world as a fascinating and cutting edge communication technology.  It has been growing and growing and will only continue to get better as the new software and the new ideas keep coming from Apple.  The technology itself has changed how people communicate globally, it has saved relationships, and it has even enhanced our medical practices at home, and abroad.  FaceTime is an incredible piece of technology, and one that I personally use every day.  I can only hope that it evolves into an even better piece of technology, and continues to help more and more people every day.

 

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Who’s Using FaceTime, and Why?

FaceTime is one of the most popular communication technologies that is used today.  With Apple reporting earlier this year that there over over 1 billion active devices worldwide, it makes sense that FaceTime would be a premier video chat and communication technology. Active Apple devices, according to a 2016 Verge.com article, are devices that are being used regularly.  This means using the “App Store” and checking in with the iCloud.  Also, the iPhone isn’t the only thing that people are buying and using from Apple, according to the same Verge.com article Apple’s other devices are selling rapidly.

“The iPhone remains the crux of Apple’s business. The company sold 74.78 million iPhones in Q1 2016, by far the largest contributor to its $18.4 billion in profit on sales of $75.9 billion. That marks the most profitable quarter of any single public corporation in history. However, Apple’s second-quarter forecast spells out a stutter in iPhone sales for the first time, and the company’s predictions include its first year-over-year revenue decline in 13 years. All the more reason for Apple to find new iOS products to sell consumers to keep its active install base over 1 billion.”

The iPhone itself was introduced in 2007, however FaceTime did not come along until 2010.  The iPhone has shown rapid periods of growth since its inception, and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.  The number of iPhones sold worldwide has grown each year since 2007, meaning from 2010 on, more and more people keep on using FaceTime.  This isn’t even mentioning the other Apple devices that have FaceTime, like Mac computers and iPads for example.

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Picture via Apple (statista 2015)

An interesting note is that after the first year FaceTime was available, that being 2010, the number of iPhone’s sold made a drastic jump, almost doubling in sales in 2011.  The FaceTime program was an instant success, with it being easy to use, all of Apple’s users could jump right on and video call anyone.  Even grandparents who wanted to see their grandkids could just pick up the phone, and with the touch of a button have a near in person conversation with them.

As for how widespread the use of the iPhone and other Apple devices are, well it can only be described as worldwide.  According to Apple.com, “With global sales of US$16 billion in merchandise in 2011, Apple leads the United States retail market in terms of sales per unit area. Apple has 486 retail stores in 19 countries and an online store available in 39 countries.”  In this interactive webpage on Apple.com you can see all of the different retail stores in each state in the U.S., and then switch countries and see how many stores are in those countries as well.  The iPhone 6s was the latest model of iPhone until the iPhone 7 was released a couple of months ago, and this map below shows where they were sold and being used.

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picture via pocketnow

Now that we know who is using FaceTime, the question remains of why people would use this, and what effects it has on the people that do use it.  This short story explains just one of the ways the FaceTime can help people communicate with one another.

“When Danny Canal starts to speak, conversations at other café tables around him fall silent. Canal, a young man in his early twenties, is doing something that looks almost like magic — he’s talking on the phone without even opening his mouth. Canal laughs into the iPhone in his left hand, while his right hand gestures and draws shapes in the air, a ballet of hand motions. His conversation partner on the screen is doing the same, the two of them performing a pantomime pas de deux.

Canal, a shipbuilding student from Hamburg, is deaf and he’s currently experiencing a revelation. Since he communicates with his friends mostly in sign language, until recently he didn’t have much use for mobile phones, unless it was for sending text messages.

With the introduction of Apple’s iPhone 4, a new era began for Canal. The new phone has a camera on the front side, above the screen, a set-up which allows him to make video calls even when his is away from his computer.”

That short excerpt explains how a face to face meeting can now happen from anywhere around the globe with a simple internet connection, and how people that wouldn’t normally be able to communicate say over the phone, can now communicate effectively.

I myself have had a personal experience using this technology for a very important relationship.  My previous girlfriend went to a school about 3 hours from UConn, and it was very hard not being able to see her all the time.  FaceTiming regularly was a great way for us to talk and communicate because it gave a much more intimate feel to the conversation.  Many long distance relationships are helped by this technology.

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Screenshot of the author of the article “It’s Complicated: The FaceTime Relationship” video chatting with her boyfriend.

From a Medium.com article, entitled “It’s Complicated: The FaceTime Relationship”, the author talks about her personal experiences with FaceTime in a long distance relationship, saying that it really helped her and her significant other, and also noting that without it, they may not have been able to stay together.

“My fiancé and I met while I was on vacation in Florida. He was living there at the time, and I was in Chicago. We met through friends on this trip, connected, and — because we are both iPhone users — began calling one another on FaceTime almost immediately.  In many ways, FaceTime made our relationship so much more fulfilling. It also made it possible for us to get to know one another on a deeper level. We didn’t just hear each other; we saw each other. We received visual signals of happiness, anger and sorrow. We could sit in silence but still connect. We became more real to one another.”

With all the people using iPhones now-a-days it makes it so much easier to connect with someone.  In November of 2015 there were just over 101 million iPhone users in the United States according to Digital Company Statistics.  This simply means the 101 million people have the ability to connect face to face and have a conversation with one another by just opening their phone and clicking a button.  This isn’t even counting people with Apple computers or even iPads, which makes that an even more amazing statistic.

This technology has become such a successful product for many different reasons, many of which are mentioned above.  The main reason is because of ease of use, and just simply because of how many people have the technology at their disposal.  When FaceTime was introduced as an application on the iPhone in 2010, millions of people already had iPhones, meaning millions of people already had the ability to FaceTime.  The very next year in 2011, the number of iPhones sold nearly doubled.  People who did not have iPhones were going out and buying them.  It was not solely because of FaceTime, but that certainly was a factor.  People bought iPhones for all it had to offer, but having the ability to video chat with no other equipment or extra applications drew people to Apple products.  Just simply having a phone number, and the iPhone was enough to make a face to face call half way around the world, and that to me, and millions of other people was just incredible.

FaceTime is a technology that is always evolving and changing.  The people who engineer it are constantly trying to make fixes and improve it so the people using it continue to use it for all the certain needs that they have. This last excerpt from the Medium.com article describes what FaceTime means to people, and how big of an impact it has on their lives.

“I would argue that this particular piece of added technology actually does make life better, because it opens up more avenues to human happiness and fulfillment. However much more time I spent engaging in FaceTime calls was spent developing a meaningful, lasting relationship with my life partner — and for me, like any good relationship, that is worth the work.”

The Evolution and Expansion of FaceTime

FaceTime is a feature of Apple products that allows two people to video chat on a wireless internet connection, or in the case of an iPhone, even without internet connection.  This technology was introduced in June of 2010, and has made massive advances in the years since.  FaceTime is basically like calling someone on the phone, but instead of just hearing their voice, you actually see their face on the screen as well.  This has allowed for people communicate more effectively in the sense that if something needs to be shown or demonstrated, it can actually be seen rather than just explained over the phone.  This has been a huge help in the business world.  While there are other video chat technologies, the simplicity of FaceTime makes it easy for people to quickly make a call and see the person they want to talk to.  There are some downsides, like the only way you can FaceTime is if you have an Apple product, no Android devices have FaceTime, as it is exclusive to Apple.

Apple has just launched a new operating system for the iPhone along with the brand new iPhone 7.  The new system, iOS 10, brings many new features to the phone, including interactive messaging, no swipe to unlock the phone, and many more features, including an upgrade to the FaceTime software.  Apple released this statement on its website along with a video and an interactive page where you can explore the new features of iOS 10.

“Everything you love is now even better with iOS 10, our biggest release yet. Express yourself in bold new ways in Messages. Find your route with beautifully redesigned Maps. Relive memories like never before in Photos. And use the power of Siri in more apps than ever. There’s so much to say about iOS 10 — here are just a few of our favorite things.”  See webpage and view video here.

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picture via static1.i4u.com

Before FaceTime was introduced the only modes of communication via mobile phone, not just on the iPhone but on all other types of phones as well, were calling and texting.  This really didn’t give a sense of close personal communication.  However, with the introduction of FaceTime in 2010, it gave a new sense of having that sense of close, personal communication, without having to actually be right next to the person you are talking to.  In an article on Medium.com this is explained in more detail.

“Our interpersonal relationships are no longer defined by their time and space limitations. That which was once only possible if we lived within driving distance of another person is now possible through the use of FaceTime. Certainly, previous forms of communication had similar effects; my mom and dad, for instance, would have never developed a relationship without modern methods of mail delivery, or without the ability to call one another (more on their experience shortly). FaceTime, however, has taken these affordances to an entirely new level. It takes mere seconds to connect with someone over FaceTime, and it can be done cheaply and conveniently.”

FaceTime was created by an engineer at Apple by the name of Roberto Garcia.  The codename for the technology was originally “Venice”, yes, just like the one in Italy.  Garcia went into detail in a 2014 article written by Shara Tibken, that explained a lawsuit between Apple and Samsung, with both technology giants accusing one another of infringing on their patents.  Garcia was called to the stand in the trial and explained how and why he came up with and created FaceTime.

Garcia started off by simply saying, “I’m extremely proud of the work I did on FaceTime.”  He related back to an anecdote saying that “one of the proudest moments of his life” was when he made a FaceTime call to his mother-in-law after his daughter was born in 2011.

“We heard her bawling in crystal clear audio in the moments afterward,” Garcia said. “She told me she felt like she was right there. That’s what we aimed for when we created FaceTime.”

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picture via toucharcade.com

The technology was far beyond anything that had come before it, because of things like the high quality video and the crystal clear sound, like Garcia mentioned.  Garcia said in the article that he had developed a way to make voice calls from a Mac computer by hooking his phone up to it, and that is what started the vision of FaceTime.  The engineers at Apple started “Game Kit” in 2008 that allowed players to play against each other and also voice chat.  Garcia knew right away that the iPhone would be great for games.  “In 2008 it became clear, the iPhone was a great gaming platform,” Garcia said.

Game Kit quickly evolved into “Game Center” in 2009 where players could have multiple people in a chat at once.  As soon as this technology was created, he started on what is known as FaceTime, and Game Center was a huge help in creating it, “Code writing for Game Center turned out to be really useful for FaceTime,” Garcia said.

Garcia and four other engineers worked non-stop on this project, writing tens of thousands of lines of code.  Garcia also noted that Apple CEO Steve Jobs didn’t like the FaceTime platform at first and wanted to make sure people could use the technology without any complications right when it was introduced, so they improved the video calling before releasing it.  Garcia also said there were some security concerns to think about when creating this, so they made sure no videos or conversations could be saved.

“I don’t want my video calls recorded by anybody or seen by anyone, so I and everyone on my team took security and privacy very seriously,” Garcia said.

Apple introduced a Wi-Fi version of FaceTime in 2010, meaning the phone had to be connected to a wireless internet network for a call to be made, and then a cellular version in 2012.  This newer version allowed calls to be made solely from cellular data, so no internet connection was needed.  It was like making a phone call but being able to see the other person on the screen at the same time.  Steve Jobs said during the introduction of the iPhone 4 while he was demoing FaceTime that, “this is one of those moments that reminds us why we do what we do.”

The main difference between FaceTime and all other video chat platforms that came before it is the ease of use and the quality of video, especially back in 2010.  All of the video chatting software before this was hard to set up and use.  “Skype” and “Oovoo” required download and setup, along with an account that had to be made, and it was just much more difficult to get on and connect with someone.  FaceTime came as an app already on the iPhone and was linked to your cell phone number, so you could start making calls immediately.

Also, the quality of video was much better than anyone had seen before.  People that used Skype noted that there was a lag between the video and audio on the screen, while the same people said that FaceTime did not have that problem at all (study done by Whitson Gordon in 2011 for Business and Technology on LifeHacker.com).

FaceTime is a technological advancement that has made it much easier for people to communicate in a more personal way, and it just keeps getting better.  As the new operating systems keep coming out, as well as the new phones, tablets, and computers, the better FaceTime gets. Steve Jobs had a lot to say in 2010 after demonstrating FaceTime at his launch presentation, but described FaceTime very simply.

“That is FaceTime,” he said.  “And it’s, well, it’s just great.”