The iOS Video Chat Applications: FaceTime vs. Skype

Obviously, these tests aren’t scientific, but now that FaceTime has some real competition from the biggest name in video chat, we thought we’d do a quick comparison of the two. We know there are other apps out there, but since these are by far the most well-known, we’re just covering these for now. For frame of reference, the tests were performed with either an iPhone 4 and an iPod touch 4G or an iPhone 4 and a Hackintosh running OS X with a Logitech Pro 9000 webcam.


Unlike Skype on the desktop, which has a lot of configuration settings that allow you to optimize video for different connections, Skype on iOS is a chat-out-of-the-box affair. It handles video chatting pretty well, though, since it limits the video quality of the outgoing video to keep it from sucking up your bandwidth. The audio quality we experienced was very clear, and while your outgoing video on the iPhone might not be the best, the incoming video is of higher quality if your chat partner is on a desktop computer. Quality will be a bit lower on both sides if it’s iOS-to-iOS. We did notice a bit of lag in between the video and the audio as well, though it was nothing unbearable—we still found it to be a pleasurable video chat experience.

Feature-wise, it’s important to note that Skype has a big leg up on FaceTime at the time of this writing (January 2011). Not only does it have the ability to video chat over Wi-Fi and 3G, it’s also cross-platform on the desktop, which means you can chat with any of your friends, whether they have Windows, OS X, or Linux.

While FaceTime doesn’t give you as many options as Skype, seeing as it’s iOS and Mac only (and is limited to Wi-Fi at the moment), it does still provide a good video chat experience. The audio quality was still pretty great, and there was no lag between the video and the audio like there was on Skype. The video quality was a bit better when you stood still, though if you started moving around the framerate would drop (until you stood still again).

Overall, I wouldn’t particularly pick one over the other, as they’re both great apps. If you put a gun to my head, I’d probably pick FaceTime, if only for the lack of lag—but the video quality in Skype, while lower, was a bit less distracting (to me, at least). They’re both great apps, and I wouldn’t push any of my friends to use one or the other while chatting with me. Like I mentioned before, Skype has the distinct advantage of being cross-platform and not being limited to Wi-Fi, so that’s always a big plus.

The Next 365 Days In 120 Seconds

One year in 120 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

I just wanted to let you in on a secret. The secret of the future. Yes, that’s right, the future: The next 365 days of life in this beautiful pale blue dot are in this video.

Yes, yes, the time lapse is from 2009, but no matter how many wars, natural disasters, sickness, elections, scandals and iPhone 5s get unveiled in 2011, this is what the world will be at, impervious to our stupidity and discoveries and glories and miseries and happiness and sadness and hate and love and cocktails and disco dances, spinning at 66,611 miles per hour around the Sun as it has been spinning for the last 4.5 billion years.


Climate Change Talks

Previously I’ve enjoyed releasing something good on GoogleEarthDesign’s birthday (It was 3 this week) so here’s my latest big idea:
Climate Change Talks: A quick search of the internets revealed no one has done a set of video clips on climate change for education (apart from illegal snippets of ‘an inconvenient truth’) so I decided to do some. Some of the later ones are matched to the UK A level Edexcel curriculum. Here’s the first one on the topic ‘Is the Earth a Super Organism’.

It’s better viewed in HD
Format: Climate change as a topic requires discussing abstract ideas such as positive and negative feedback as well as map based graphics so I went for as an alternative to PowerPoint and added clips of GEarth tours where useful. When a lot of your presentation isn’t actually spatial its better not to base your content totally in a GEarth tour as it presents difficulties. E.g. importing, sizing and adding labels to an image in Prezi is a snap with lots of drag and drop controls whereas its a pain to do as an image overlay in GEarth.
Having said that, some of the other clips I have planned which are completely spatial in nature will be done just as GEarth tours and recorded as YouTube clips.
Here is the original prezi page:
(navigate by using the plus minus buttons that will slide out if you mouse over the right hand side or use mouse wheel and click and drag)
It’s rather like viewing a GEarth file after watching a tour of the content. In the bottom left corner of each frame it has links to related topics that don’t feature in the talk.
Death to PowerPoint: Lots of people have criticised PowerPoint for its slide analogy format, I think you can still do some useful stuff with it but I see their point. The nice thing about Prezi is that I can produce a mind map like poster and then take you around with added audio by recording it with demo software (I use Camtasia 7).

  • I like the zoomable interface idea Prezi shares with GEarth tours
  • Prezi is very usable and Camtasia is not bad
  • Doing it this way I like the way I can be discussing one set of points but adding arrows to link back to earlier slides of content.
  • Using 3 bits of software is a drag (GEarth, Prezi and Camtasia 7) and is time consuming
  • I don’t like the way promotes the idea of rotating text all over the place, I’ve heard reports it makes people feel sick.
Video Clips in Education: I had a long think about how to present this content and I thought it worth listing my inspirations:
  • Hans Rosling: Excellent speaker with great use of technology
  • Lawrence Lessig: Great speaker, interesting and unique style but I’m not sure I like how linear it is.
  • Ken Robinson: Amazing, totally absorbing using just his voice. Good to remember that technology is not what makes a great talk, its the talk itself and the speaker.
Very interested to hear what people think.