How Far Will Apple Take iChat?

by James R. Stoup Aug 07, 2006

It’s that time of year again when Mac users all squirm in anticipation of what might be unveiled. If you believe the rumors, soon Apple will have a camera built into every one of its computers and displays (with the exception of the Mac Mini and PowerMac). And that goes hand in hand with the rumors of an increase in focus on iChat. So, what can we expect from Apple’s little video conference tool and why should we care?

The Most Likely Upgrades
Before Steve Jobs leaves the stage I expect to hear about some upgrades to both iChat and the iSight camera. So, what can we expect? Well, first off it is only a matter of time before all of Apple’s displays have a camera built into them. I would expect that upgrade to be announced Monday. Also, I think it is a safe bet to assume that iChat will get a bit more polish and refinement. Look for the number of people you can invite to a conference to double as well. And, of course, performance gains are practically a given.

The Upgrades We Have A Slim Chance of Seeing
Using iChat to call standard phones and/or Skype users would be very nice. Maybe tight integration with Automator to act as a digital secretary will appear. Thus giving you the ability to set your machine up to answer calls with custom messages, screen calls and then send them to voice mail. Or perhaps allowing users to automatically dial a lists of contacts and leave them a prerecorded message? Useful? Maybe. Cool? Definitely! Of course at this stage all I can base this speculation on is several interesting rumors that seem to pop up now and again.

The Upgrades We Certainly Wont’ See, But We Can Dream About
And now, at long last, we get to the pinnacle of hype, the iPhone. It won’t happen. I know it won’t, you know it won’t, but still, everyone hopes against all odds that Steve Jobs will pull this out of his hat when he utters the magic phrase “one more thing . . .” It will be all white, and easy to use, and have a camera, and have easy to set ringtones, and will have a battery that lasts 90 days, and it will only weigh 3 grams, and it will render the user invisible and will protect against scurvy and tax audits and and and, well, you get the point. There is more wishful thinking than phone at this point, but maybe one day.

So why should your average user care about iChat? Well, simply put, with iChat Apple is trying to move users away from traditional means of communication and towards Apple’s world of easy-to-use (proprietary) communication. Maybe Apple will one day release an iPhone that has a built in iSight camera that allows users to see and hear the person they are calling. If that ever came to pass I can only assume that it would be a version of iChat running everything. I can only conclude that this is yet another attempt by Apple to push into the coming digital home. Though iChat might be a sideways push it is a push none the less.


  • James, the idea of Apple introducing cameras in all of their displays isn’t impossible, but I don’t think it’s likely. The only people who really use those gorgeous Cinema displays are professionals, possibly schools and maybe the odd “rich” home user. I don’t think professionals will make much use of a camera in a display, nor would schools as I can only assume they’d become more of a distraction in class.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing iChat allow Yahoo and MSN protocols being added. I know there are ways of doing this now, but they’re too much hassle and too much configuration is needed.

    iPhone all the way, I’m getting an upgrade next month and would love to see what Apple have to offer.

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Aug 07, 2006 Posts: 104
  • Good article. I love reading about Apple software and programs.

    Keep up the good work James R. Stoup.

    Mac_Man had this to say on Aug 07, 2006 Posts: 14
  • Apple did just reduce their prices on the current line of Cinema Displays. That normally means newer models on the horizon. If not built-in iSight cameras, perhaps glossy screens ala MacBook.

    MacNuggets had this to say on Aug 08, 2006 Posts: 17
  • Apple is still pretty busy installing the necessary plumbing to eventually support the mythical “iPhone”. The infrastructure for this kind of device has to be carefully constructed before introducing a device that will use and depend entirely upon how good the foundation is implemented.

    Look at your cell phone, what made you pick CDMA over GSM, or vice versa. It was because of what you’ve heard: CDMA or GSM has better coverage or voice quality or fewer dropped calls.

    Marketing hypes can be a double-edged sword though. It can be a potent tool to attract customers but it can also be your technology’s achilles heel if not implemented correctly.

    Like I have said here and in my blogs, the iPhone will be Bluetooth- and Airport Extreme-based and using future edition of the iChat as its driver.

    Although, the iPhone was never mentioned at WWDC, upcoming iChat features were mentioned and one particular feature of interest - VoIP integration. Apple has until spring of 2007 to place together a robust VoIP protocol that will be compatible with SIP, H323, and of course, Skype.

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 08, 2006 Posts: 846
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
You need log in, or register, in order to comment