Apple’s latest iPhone SDK suggests iPad nearly had video conferencing

Blowout Specials ends 2/28“Developers pawing over the latest iPhone SDK have found references to a front-facing camera, and controls to manage video calls, despite the lack of announced hardware,” Bill Ray reports for The Register.

“The latest iPhone SDK, which is also used to develop iPad applications, has references to a hasFrontCamera variable – so applications can check if the hardware exists – but developers have also found buttons for accepting and rejecting video calls, buttons that are too wide for the iPhone’s screen,” Ray reports.

“Video calling was supposed to be the killer function for 3G networks, but it turned out that nobody wanted it,” Ray reports. “Since then companies such as Skype have made the capability free and still there’s only minimal use. Despite this apparent reality, almost all manufacturers still regard a front-facing camera as an essential feature on a 3G handset – all except Apple, that is.”

Ray reports, “The iPhone has never had a front-facing camera, and from what Apple has said neither does the iPad – some Apple fans are predicting a surprise inclusion of such a camera at launch, though it seems more likely destined for a future model.”

Full article, with a screenshot of the buttons, here.

MacDailyNews Take: The problem with video calling is that you generally have to get presentable in order to do it (although, as Ray describes in his article, it does have its uses, for example: far-flung family members). Seriously, who wants to look up each other’s noses via shaky cam while you’re running around with cell phones? It’s one of those things that sounds get on paper, but is decidedly less practical in daily use.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lava_Head_UK” for the heads up.]


  1. @MDN’s take “Seriously, who wants to look up each other’s noses via shaky cam”

    Which is what I said yesterday evening when posting to MacRumors similar story…

    “Hey folks, the iPad had a camera for pics, video conferencing and iChat and as Steve was getting intimate with his iPad BY CHATTING, c’mon folks, then…. then…

    Steve saw his wirey nose hairs and that was the end of the iPad camera and iChat and video conferencing…” ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I have a front-facing camera in my MBP but only use it for Skype overseas and the kids use PhotoBooth. I never use it to take photos, scanning or normal phone calls. Despite this I think a camera should be included in the two 64G iPads.

  3. I say throw it in anyway. If you don’t wanna use it – don’t. Just like I’ve never used iChat on iMac.

    I saw another person the iPad was made for 5 minutes ago.

    My wife.

    She’s got a 20″ iMac that she sits in front of once every 10 days. Five minutes ago she asked me why she keeps getting this message saying that she needs to update her bluetooth keyboard. How long have you been getting that message I ask?
    Oh – I’ve been getting that message for months but the ok button is grayed out so I just reboot the computer and it goes away for a while.

    Well – the reason she can’t click the ok button is that first you need to click the padlock to unlock it and then enter your password (which she didn’t remember) and then click ok, wait for the update to install and then the Mac will reboot itself. Something she did not know or care to learn.

    The iPad will solve all of this. She loves her iPhone by the way – although she insisted she didn’t need or want one I bought her one anyway.

    As for the iPad – we’ll be getting two.

    mw: simple

  4. 50% of my calls now are video (iChat and Skype) calls from clients. I work out of my house. The other 50% are voice… Skype and iPhone.

    MDN is still living in the 20th century on this one. I just wake up, shower, get dressed, even though I know I’m not leaving the house.

    I like video conferencing.

  5. Sorry, but an iPad with a front facing camera would be killer. It let’s you use the iPad as a VERY inexpensive second computer (for the kids, for example). And Skype is very useful for chatting with relatives and friends and the video is a MUST.

    I, for one, will buy an iPad for my kids the day it has a front facing camera. I think the demand for this is higher than you think…

  6. Apple play us all, they know full well that every twitch and line of code gets scrutinised. The very fact this line says “hasfrontcamera” is a message. The iPad will come with a camera in the first generation too. the clues are racking up. Time will tell.

  7. Well I’ll be waiting for G2 I guess. The ability for loved ones to communicate face to face is IMO severely underestimated. Most prospective buyers consider this feature a must as no other device short of expensive laptops have it.

  8. Bah. I’ve got Skype. Had it for a couple years now. You know how often I use it? 3-4 times a week. For text communication. I’ve used the video chat all of one time, and that was at a big family gathering so everyone could all see the aunt who lived far away. Yeah – nice for that once every two years bit. Hey! You know what? I think I could just fire up my laptop for that special occasion!

    Yeah – I don’t need video conferencing on my iPad. The last thing I need is people seeing me roll my eyes at all the stupid things they are saying. Oh well – let’s see what the market demands, shall we?

  9. I bet the ipad did have full video conferencing, and then SJ pulled it at the last minute.

    In order to chat effectively you’d have to keep the iPad perfectly still in line with your face – ok on a system that is on your desk or lap, not one that’s constantly being moved around and viewed at different angles.

    We will see video conferencing on the iPad but not until Apple has incorporated some sort of software based image steadying and centering features.

  10. The iPad is exactly what my mother (78yo) needs IF she could videoskype with her grandchildren. I too think the front cam was pulled late in the process although given Apple’s way of designing things it’s hard to guess why.
    Great gizmo, too bad we need the video conferencing so much. Oh well, we’ll wait for the iPad 2 I guess…

  11. Why was this not noticed in earlier builds…? ie. is this a new addition and if so would that not indicate a more current development? I think this is Apples way of creating demand… its classic Bernays PR and its what Apple does best. Intentional leaks…the one thing we all know about apple is that we don’t know ie. its very secretive. Very little gets out without it being sanctioned. It uses rumour sites to test demand and to create it. Traditional Media tap into these sites. Leading to public expectation. and boom…a product is born and released into a market where demand exists. First ebook you all need to get on your ipad is: Propaganda by Edward Bernays. (The orginal PR Guru)

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