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New iPhone 4 Video Calls Won't Use Carrier Minutes; The Death of Text Messaging?

Categories: Silicon Beach
Facetime picture.jpg
iPhone 4's new FaceTime feature promises much needed face time with far away friends and relatives
When Steve Jobs announced the launch of the new iPhone 4 just a few weeks ago, we all waited with bated breath for a new video chatting feature called FaceTime.

And now, there's more: An Apple rep has confirmed that video calls won't use up any carrier minutes.

"The voice call ends as soon as the FaceTime call connects," Apple tells Business Insider. "The FaceTime call is over Wi-Fi, so [it] does not use carrier minutes."

This week, we took to the streets to see what South Floridians --both iPhone aficionados and newbies-- had to say about the new feature. While some are excited by the prospects of being seen, and seeing, the face at the other end, some say the new app won't change their ways.

"I'm a graduate student, so it's easier for me to communicate while I'm on campus, since it doesn't require sound and it takes less time to text message," says Jacqueline Nusz, 27, from Kendall.

Nusz is a text messaging addict. She'll send upwards of three to four texts at a time, and she and several of her friends communicate via iPhone. But the new FaceTime, despite its promises of free face time, just don't seem to compare to the real thing.

Danny Prenat, 28, from Kendall, seems to agree.

"Texting is the evolution of instant messaging," he says. "Our generation grew up instant messaging on AOL, so it's the next easiest step for us. We don't need to see somebody to have a conversation with them.

"That must be something for the next generation, because if I want to see somebody, I'll actually go see them. I don't need to see someone to talk to them. I've gotten too accustomed to faceless conversation."

This next generation is definitely all about new media, as we mentioned last week, but will seeing someone's face scare off teens?

"To be very honest I don't think it will ever replace texting," says Elizabeth Lecusay, 15, from Cutler Bay. "I mean, okay, I do admit that video chatting is getting popular, but it could never replace a good old fashioned text message.

"I love video chatting, but it gets kind of annoying because when I video chat with someone I have to change out of my PJs, and actually try to look good."

On top of the looks factor, there's the comfort level.

"With texting you can ignore people and pretend you didn't get it, but with video chatting you can't," says Jorge Freyre, 26, from Coconut Grove. "I wouldn't like to use it because at the end of the day, I like being able to ignore people if I don't feel like talking to them anymore --and you can't do that with video chat."

And oddly enough, saving money isn't what's really drawing in the 20-somethings. For them, it's more about sharing an experience.

Kristy Martinez, 24, from South Miami, is an avid BlackBerry user, but admits that she'd consider crossing over to Apple because of the new iPhone.

"I think the concept is a fun idea, but I don't think people really see it as a way to save on data charges or minutes. If I'm at a really cool concert and my friend from Michigan can't be there, I can share what i'm seeing with her. That to me is cool, but I don't see it as, 'Let me video chat to save money."

The possibilities seem endless, but there's always a catch. In order to take full advantage of FaceTime, both parties must have the new iPhone 4, and it's currently a WiFi-only application, for now. But these limitations -- as with any new product on the market -- will only be temporary. So with iPhone 4 pre-orders taking over the web and everyone poised to video chat, our question is: Will FaceTime mark the eventual death of text messaging?

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