Apple’s FaceTime is a convenient way to video chat, but only when you happen to have access to a WiFi connection. Currently, the app prohibits video calls being made over a 3G connection. That may not be the case for long, though, since an iOS 5 error message suggests that you may soon be able to video chat even when using cellular data.
The message warns, “turn on cellular data or use Wi-Fi to use FaceTime”. We’ve tried FaceTime over 3G in the past, routing the data through a mobile WiFi hotspot, and though not all carriers performed equally, we definitely saw the potential for cellular-based FaceTime, should it ever be allowed. If the next iPhone sees some increased HSPA+ speeds, the app could become even more usable without a speedy WiFi hookup.
This new ability could be carrier dependent, left up to the whims of the networks if they want their users consuming bandwidth in such a manner. Even if this feature is present, will anyone actually enable it? AT&T, after all, has had a very shaky past when it comes to the iPhone straining its data networks. Color us skeptical.