The ever-expanding 4G LTE networks run by Verizon and AT&T offer enormous advantages to those whose devices are 4G-capable. On a good day, a 4G connection is comparable to your home wi-fi network in terms of speed. To the delight of many, Apple has included this technology in their third-generation iPad. Those who are eagerly awaiting their new iPad (which hits stores tomorrow) are no doubt eager to test out their fast new 4G connection on some of their favorite activities: surfing the web, watching movies on Netflix, playing music from Pandora, and making video calls with FaceTime.
Well, those who want to use their 4G iPad for FaceTime are, it seems, out of luck. The Verge is reporting this morning that the new iPad has the same restrictions that FaceTime came with all the way back in 2010, when Steve Jobs introduced it alongside the iPhone 4. If you want to use FaceTime on your new iPad, you still have to be connected to a wi-fi network.
This restriction (arguably) made a certain amount of sense two years ago when the iPhone 4 debuted. At the time only one carrier - AT&T - had the iPhone or the iPad, and if people started using their iPhone's for FaceTime calls, it could put a strain on AT&T's 3G network (which was less robust at the time). Now, though, it seems increasingly passé, especially in light of the proliferation of 4G-enabled smartphones that include mobile hotspot capabilities. Suppose, for example, that you're a Verizon customer with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and a 4G iPad. You can't use your iPad to make FaceTime calls over 4G, but you can use your Galaxy Nexus to create a mobile hotspot, connect your iPad to it, and then make a FaceTime call. It all seems a little ridiculous.
I sent a message to Apple requesting some clarification on this issue. In 2010 Steve Jobs cited AT&T as the reason for keeping FaceTime wi-fi-only. I asked if this was still the case, and what the reasoning for keeping the restriction in place was. As yet they have not responded.
What do you think? Should Apple, AT&T, Verizon, or whoever is responsible allow FaceTime calls over 4G? Do you use FaceTime on your iOS device? Let us know in the comments.