Steve Jobs and other Apple staff gave enough clues yesterday the iPhone OS 4.0 unveiling event that suggests that that video chat might be coming to the next generation of iPhone devices, which will likely be announced this summer. A video chat app would have the obvious benefits, and might even be used with the newly announced Apple Game Center social network — such as for in-game video chatting between players.
Here are some of the signs, both fact and rumor, that point to the possibility of video chat in the next-generation of iPhone devices.
- First and foremost, as TUAW points out, a process named iChatAgent appears in the OS iPhone OS 4.0 SDK. It’s new to this OS. While recent screenshots shown online of a somewhat larger looking iPhone running a video chat app could be fake, it fits in with this news. Would Apple add this app for any other reason than to demonstrate what’s possible with video chat features? Possibly, though there are enough chat apps on the iPhone, and has Apple ever done anything lately without solid purpose?
- Multi-tasking support, as announced yesterday at Apple’s big OS 4.0 unveiling, and done more efficiently as not to drain batteries. You could do video chat without background tasks, but if this is to be implemented into social networking apps (e.g., Apple’s new Game Center social network), you need multi-tasking support. Multi-tasking would allow apps like Skype (which on the web has video chat support) to run in the background checking for incoming calls. Imagine a group video conferencing app such as Tokbox running on a next-gen iPhone.
- Rumored supporting hardware: A front-facing camera, flash bulb, 960×480 screen resolution. (The current iPhone screen resolution is 480×320, and the camera is on the back.) Rumors, yes, but from a number of sites, including Daring Fireball, whose past speculations have come true. [Correction: As per Nicholas Tolson’s comment below, Daring Fireball did not speculate on there being a 960×480 screen res to the future phone. I am, however, speculating on something more than 480×320, making the phone slightly longer than normal and maybe a bit wider.)
- Processing power: Apple bought a chip maker, and if I’m not mistaken, the result was the A4 chip that the iPad uses. This is the minimum a next-gen iPhone would need for video chat, and some analysts predict that this is exactly the chip that’ll be used.
- The recently-granted Apple mobile cover flow patent, which would allow a quick visual way to browse friend profiles on an iPhone (with larger screen), possibly gamers who join Apple’s Game Center social network.
These are certainly killer features to make at least some of the growing number of mobile social networkers want to run out and replace their current iPhones or other smartphones. What do you think? Will Apple introduce a higher-resolution iPhone this summer, with a front-facing camera, thus making it capable of video chat? Can you imagine an improved Facebook iPhone app, complete with video chatting? Would you use such an app?
Image courtesy of TUAW.