When Apple announced iOS 6 last month, the company revealed that its FaceTime video chat software would no longer require a WiFi connection to make calls, and would now be usable over cellular data networks, as well. That sounded like great news at the time (as long as you’re on a big enough data tier, at least), since video chat has still yet to catch on in any major fashion, and making it more accessible will only help it become a more attractive feature. Problem is, the latest iOS 6 beta to arrive is starting to hint that FaceTime-over-cellular may not be such a cut-and-dry proposition, and we could be seeing carriers get in the way of its deployment.
Yesterday’s iOS 6 beta 3 release contains an error message informing AT&T users that they have to contact AT&T in order to activate FaceTime over cellular for their account. There’s no sign of a similar message in place for Verizon users.
This may simply be a consequence of how AT&T provisions its data plans, and all iPhone users with such accounts will see the feature activated once iOS 6 goes public. On the other hand, this could very well be the first sign that AT&T intends to charge a premium, or otherwise restrict access to FaceTime-over-cellular in certain situations.
We sincerely hope that one of those latter cases doesn’t end up turning out to be true here, as that won’t do much to help encourage FaceTime use; if anything, it might even drive users away from the feature. It could also help drive sales away from AT&T, assuming we don’t see a similar system pop-up on the Verizon iPhone. But again, this is still largely speculation at this point, and that error message could end up being quite innocent.