FaceTime Voice: The Biggest thing you didn’t hear about in iOS 7
If you’re anything like me, you spent 2 hours of your life plastered to a screen listening intently to a keynote speech, trying to make sure to catch every detail. Luckily, since I have a day job and can’t actually pay $1600 + airfare to GO to WWDC, Apple live-streamed the thing so that wasn’t necessary. I could talk about how the new version of iOS is a huge departure, and how it’s great, and how it’s awful, and you could probably justify all of those points. However, instead I would like to tell you about the biggest feature that Apple really didn’t spend any time on.
FaceTime (and iMessage) was really the first time a non-SMS based messaging system that integrates with regular text messages was released. BBM and Google Talk may have come first, but neither replaced SMS without users having to do work. Once iMessage was announced, it was just a matter of time until free iOS to iOS voice calls were introduced as well. Now that Apple has such a huge level of pull with carriers, they are free to experiment and introduce whatever they want. With iMessage, people were sending text messages that didn’t cost $0.15 a pop without even realizing it, every time they sent a message to another iOS user. With FaceTime Voice, it will be possible (in the fall, possibly in a later update) to have phone calls you make to other iOS users be handled entirely through VOIP. People will be able to make phone calls without using their minutes, and without even necessarily realizing they are doing it.
This is going to kill carriers, who are suddenly going to be inundated with customers who are noticing that they use a lot fewer minutes, and unlimited SMS is fairly cheap, but regular phone minutes are quite a bit more expensive. These people will want to downgrade their plans, and perhaps add more data to compensate for the added usage (although VOIP is very light on data).
I look forward to the consumer release of iOS 7, which will undoubtedly focus more on the average person’s needs, and will likely highlight this as a reason to buy iPhone.
ps. For the record, I did install the iOS 7 beta, and no, I am not a registered developer. I did this for free, and legally, and have been doing it since the second beta of iOS 5. If you want to know how, ask me @RobAttrell. If you just want to know my thoughts, feel free to leave a comment and we can discuss it, but I’m liking what they offered so far (most of which was successfully predicted here).