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Quality varies quite a bit with Skype, but it often leaves much to be desired. A Skype video chat, even with a high-speed Internet connection, is plagued with stuttering, low resolution video, and even dropped calls. If you are Skyping during peak times, such as on the weekend, nights or during major holidays, these problems are exacerbated. You get what you pay for. Skype is free and can work on inexpensive devices with slow hardware. Unfortunately, Internet speed and hardware are not always the bottlenecks. Skype is a victim of its own success. If a lot of people are using Skype, the experience can be frustrating. Skype has improved with recent updates.
Introduced by Apple in 2011, FaceTime is a high quality video conferencing platform. With hundreds of millions of iOS users and over 70 million OS X users, a lot of people are using FaceTime to communicate.
FaceTime requires Apple hardware. One must own an iOS device or Mac to use FaceTime. For iOS, users need iOS 4.0 and a forward-facing camera. FaceTime is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPad 2, and the 4th generation iPod Touch, as well as all newer iOS devices. Mac users must be running OS X Lion (10.6.6) in order to use FaceTime. An external camera and microphone can enable FaceTime on Macs without built-in capabilities.
Apple has indicated that they will open FaceTime, allowing other operating systems such as Windows and Android to use the platform. This seems likely, as they have made Podcasts, iTunes and other technologies available to other platforms.
FaceTime launched with the ability to chat over WiFi networks only. With the release of iOS 6, FaceTime is able to run on 3G/4G networks, depending on the carrier.
FaceTime is much simpler than Skype. It does not manage contacts. Instead, FaceTime integrates with the Contacts and Address Books apps for iOS and OS X. FaceTime for the iPhone is not even a standalone app. One launches FaceTime through the Phone app. This integration makes it much easier to manage contacts in one place. iOS 7 will introduce a standalone FaceTime app. The iPad, iPod Touch and Macintosh have separate FaceTime apps, integrated with Contacts or Address Book.
Once a call is started, FaceTime is very easy to use. There are only a few controls. One can mute the microphone, switch cameras and end the call. There is no way to switch to voice, however, a voice call can be switched to FaceTime using the Phone app. Unlike Skype, Apple does not provide a VOIP service. Therefore a device like an iPad or Mac cannot switch to a voice call. The whole point of FaceTime is to enable video chats. It does this very well. (continue…)